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Protecting America in the New Missile Age


James Carafano: START Limits Comprehensive Missile Defense

December 15th, 2010

In a web memo published last month at Heritage, James Carafano responded to Vice President Joe Biden’s Wall Street Journal article in which he asserts that our current missile defense plans are more than adequate. Our missile defense should be comprehensive, and Carafano said START would limit our ability to do that. An excerpt:

From Defending the West to Modest Protection for Europe

“Upon entering office, President Obama slashed the number of land-based interceptors planned to protect the U.S. homeland from North Korean and Iranian ballistic missiles by 44 percent. The cuts included scrapping the ‘third site’ ballistic missile defense plan to defend the United States and U.S. allies against the threat of long- and medium-range ballistic missiles from Iran. These installations were to be completed by 2013. In its stead the White House elected to focus on more limited regional missile defense.

“In conjunction with a plan approved by NATO at the recent Lisbon summit, Obama has sketched out what the Administration hopes will lead to the development of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (a U.S., German, and Italian joint program), and the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe.

“Obama dubbed his ‘new’ plan for Europe the Phased Adaptive Approach. The four-phase program is intended to be the cornerstone of NATO’s ballistic missile defense initiative. Under Phase I (which the White House hopes to begin in 2011), U.S. Aegis ships with SM-3 interceptors will deploy to the Mediterranean with sea- and forward-based sensors stationed in southern Europe. In Phases II (2015), III (2018), and IV (2020) more interceptors will be deployed, both on Aegis ships and ground platforms.

“In his effort to cheerlead for New START, Vice President Biden neglected to mention the limitations of this approach. Even if the Obama plan is implemented on schedule and at cost (questionable assumptions), parts of Europe will remain vulnerable to long-range Iranian threats until 2020. The program also makes no specific, sustained investment to exploit the full range of sea-based and SM-3 technology. Furthermore, land-based SM-3 is a dramatically different capability from the current sea-based SM-3. It has yet to be flown. The Missile Defense Agency is already two years behind the deployment plans.”

Read the full web memo at Heritage.

At The Foundry, Owen Graham presents an alternative to START.

“The administration acts as if the choice is between New START or nothing,” Graham writes. “This assumption is fallacious. Some of the treaty’s supporters maintain that criticism of New START stems from partisanship alone and that critics are simply opposed to arms control. Such assumptions are also wrong. The problems with New START are substantive.”

An alternative path to START begins from a position of strength. For example, a START alternative would not be tied to nuclear disarmament. Our response to a rogue state developing a nuclear weapon shouldn’t be nuclear disarmament, considering the treaty “imposes no constraints on these countries.” Read Graham’s full post at The Foundry.

Sen. Jim DeMint: Why I May Filibuster New START: UPDATED

December 3rd, 2010

Senator Jim DeMint, critical of the Obama administration’s decision to drop Bush-era plans to deploy missile defense shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, is equally critical of START. He believes the treaty will limit how future presidents could pursue missile defense. DeMint asserts that Cold War-era foreign policy is no longer feasible, since the U.S. faces threats from rogue states like Iran and North Korea, and START would have no effect on these countries’ capabilities to develop nuclear weapons.

In a recent statement published at National Review Online‘s The Corner blog, DeMint argues why he may filibuster the new treaty. An excerpt:

“Many of us have been concerned that the START Treaty would weaken our national security, and recent revelations of previously undisclosed talks with Russia on missile defense and movement of Russian tactical nuclear warheads only raise more questions that must be answered. I’ve asked for the full negotiating records, as have been provided to the Senate on previous treaties, but the Obama administration has continually denied that request and promised that missile defense was never part of the negotiations with Russia. But we have now learned that the State Department did in fact meet with Russia to specifically discuss missile defense, after months of denying these discussions ever took place.”

Read the rest at NRO.

Update: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney weighs in on START in the Boston Globe. An excerpt:

“Why the hurry, Mr. President? It’s a question we’ve asked twice before. There was a rush to pass his $787 billion ‘stimulus’’ to hold unemployment below 8 percent. Congress obliged, and now we are saddled with higher unemployment and crushing debt. Then there was his health care assault: no time for our representatives to even read the bill. As ObamaCare has been revealed, it has frightened business into retreating from hiring. Now the president is in a hurry again: affirm the New START treaty right away, he insists, during the lame duck session. Fall for his rush once, shame on him; twice, shame on Congress; a third time, shame all around.

“A treaty so critical to our national security deserves a careful, deliberative look by the men and women America has just elected. The president is in a hurry for the same reason he has been in a hurry before: he knows that if his vaunted treaty is given a thorough review by the Senate, it will likely be rejected. And well it should be.”

James Carafano in NRO on North Korea

November 24th, 2010

The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano is on a roll. An excerpt of his post at National Review’s The Corner blog:

“No place is less aptly named than the Land of the Morning Calm. Artillery duels are not tranquil. Neither is news that North Korea has a new covert nuclear facility.

“Blame the president for all the tumult, at least partly. The Obama doctrine — a.k.a. the ‘anything but Bush’ approach — relied on international institutions and ‘soft power’ diplomacy to solve our most fundamental foreign-policy challenges.

“It was a lovely doctrine. But then Obama discovered a harsh truth: Reality bites. Faced with real-world foreign-policy messes — from GITMO to deadlines in Afghanistan — the president found himself backtracking into a ‘Bush-lite’ foreign policy.

“Now Pyongyang emerges as the final nail in the coffin of the Obama doctrine.

“When North Korea stepped on the outstretched hands of friendship and negotiation, the White House found it had to reverse course and get tough. It had no choice. The North Koreans regard accommodation as weakness, not negotiation.

“Admittedly, in practice Obama’s policy toward North Korea has been better than Bush’s, maybe a lot better. So Pyongyang is pushing back: raising a ruckus in hopes that Washington will back down and buy them off — again.

“What makes them think they can still push America around? The message the White House is still sending to the rest of the world. While the Obama doctrine has fallen by the wayside in practice, its rhetoric remains alive and well.

“That equivocal face offers Pyongyang and other restive regimes hope that America will be the pushover the Obama doctrine suggests. It’s hard for North Korea to take the commander-in-chief seriously when he chooses to slash 44 percent of the missile-defense interceptors meant to protect the U.S. homeland from Pyongyang’s missiles. A policy of minimalist missile defense looks pretty ridiculous to a hostile nation that announces, out of the blue, that it has built another massive nuclear facility while we were beating our shields into plowshares. Who know what else Pyongyang is hiding — or when it will tell us?”

North Korea Fires On South Korea

November 23rd, 2010

Today, North Korea fired artillery shells on the disputed South Korean border island Yeonpyeong, killing an indeterminate number of people. What motivated the attack? North Korea implied that South Korea fired first. The latter was conducting military exercises around the island. (Source)

The president called it an “outrageous act.”

The rogue state recently revealed that it was operating a uranium enrichment program. Last month, the Institute for Science and International Security released a report that concluded North Korea is enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Among other things, North Korea has a centrifuge program, which enables the rogue state to develop nuclear weapons and to assist other countries attempting to build centrifuge programs. The Washington Post reported that the rogue state might own 500 to 1,000 centrifuges, and experts say the country would need 3,000 such systems to make a nuclear weapon.

The Heritage Foundation recently published a fact sheet list the top ten reasons not to trust Russia. Listed among the reasons is Russia violating nonproliferation agreements by providing ballistic missile technology to Iran and North Korea, which have continually threatened America and its allies. Several months ago, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that in as little as five years, Iran may be capable of hitting the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, with North Korea’s help.

Today’s attack is part of a continuum of North Korea’s determination to develop nuclear weapons and antagonize U.S. allies. Heritage’s Conn Carroll urges the Obama administration not to give in to North Korea’s inevitable demands.

(Photo credit: Reuters)

Missile Defense Quick Links for Tuesday

October 19th, 2010

—  Last year there was speculation that countries like Israel and Turkey would be alternative sites for missile defense shields after the Obama administration dropped Bush-era plans to deploy them to Poland and the Czech Republic. NATO seeks Turkey’s support to expand missile defense in Europe.

“The US has engaged Turkey in political and military dialogue on its potential technical and operational contributions should NATO adopt this approach,” Defense secretary Robert Gates said. “Contrary to some press reports, we are not pressuring Turkey to make a contribution.” (Source)

—  The Heritage Foundation’s Sally McNamara blogged about NATO and missile defense on The Foundry blog. An excerpt:

“The Obama administration’s approach to missile defense is two-fold — much the same approach as the Bush administration. President Obama is talking to nations bilaterally about hosting U.S. facilities such as radar and interceptors, which he wants to build up in several phases. But he is also seeking NATO’s approval to link up U.S. assets with European assets. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that for a 10-year investment of just $280 million, all the separate missile defense systems that NATO members own individually can be linked together for far greater coverage and protection than each enjoys by itself.”

—  Aviation Week reports that Iran and North Korea may be working together to develop ballistic missile systems. Israeli officials said North Korea’s BM25 Musudan has been delivered to Iran.

North Korea Moving Forward on Uranium Enrichment

October 8th, 2010

According to a report released by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISS), which focuses on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, North Korea is enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Download the 34-page report, “Taking Stock: North Korea’s Uranium Enrichment Program,” in PDF.

The ISS asserts that North Korea has a centrifuge program, which enables the rogue state to develop nuclear weapons and to assist other countries attempting to build centrifuge programs. “As a result,” reads the report, “the priority is finding ways to either stop the program or to delay its progress through a combination of negotiations and sanctions.”

The U.S. has long suspected that North Korea was attempting to develop nuclear weapons, but the centrifuge systems take matters to a different level. David Albright, a co-author of the report, told the Washington Post that North Korea might own 500 to 1,000 centrifuges. Experts say the rogue state would need 3,000 such systems to make a nuclear bomb.

An excerpt of the report:

“Since mid-2009, North Korea has admitted it has a uranium enrichment program and implied that it will enrich uranium on a significant scale in the near future. After years of denial, North Korea mentioned its uranium enrichment program in public statements as tensions increased following its ballistic missile test in April 2009, its May 2009 nuclear test, and the subsequent imposition of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korean trading entities.

“Despite its announcements, determining when it may produce significant quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) remains challenging. Although North Korea has not provided any concrete information about the actual status of its enrichment effort, its statements and information about its procurements abroad suggest it may be able to bring into operation a large uranium enrichment plant during this decade. But doing so will require North Korea to obtain a range of nuclear-related goods and expertise abroad. It is not self-sufficient in the wherewithal to make enriched uranium, so it seeks a wide variety of products overseas to both develop and build an enrichment plant.

“A priority is deepening understanding of North Korea’s enrichment program and finding diplomatic and non-military means to inhibit its progress. The resumption of the Six Party Talks is the most direct way to seek a verifiable declaration and disablement of this program. In lieu of successful negotiations, the most effective options to inhibit the program’s progress rest on U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874. If implemented effectively, they provide mechanisms to prevent North Korea from obtaining vital goods it needs to build and maintain an enrichment facility. Key to successful implementation is greater Chinese cooperation. In addition, improvements in national trade controls need to include greater industry awareness of North Korean smuggling methods and closer industry/government cooperation to detect and thwart its procurement efforts.”

(Image source: World Nuclear Association)

Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust Russia

August 13th, 2010

Cross-posted at

The current regime in Russia has a terrible record as a reliable partner, yet President Obama wants the nuclear treaty he negotiated with the Kremlin fast-tracked for Senate approval. That makes no sense. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. A Long History of Arms Control Violations: Russia repeatedly violated the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) all the way to its expiration in December 2009, as clearly stated in 2005 and 2010 State Department compliance reports. Specifically, Russia tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile with Multiple Individually Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (warheads) while START was in force. Such activities, however, were explicitly banned.

2. The West Is Still Their #1 Threat: Russia regards the U.S. and NATO as its principal adversaries and configures its forces for large-scale conventional theater operations with them. The recent discovery of the Russian spy network inside the U.S. and their celebration upon return to Russia, courtesy of President Obama, indicates that Russia is set in a Cold War mentality.

3. Helping Iran and North Korea: According to U.S. intelligence, Russia violated nonproliferation agreements by providing ballistic missile technology to Iran and North Korea, which have continually threatened America and its allies.

4. Still Building a Nuclear Arsenal: Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Russia still designs, builds, and modernizes nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Russia’s new military doctrine maintains a low threshold for nuclear first strikes. In fact, Moscow plans to use tactical nuclear weapons in Europe if ever confronted with a conventional threat. In 2009, Russia conducted a military exercise that simulated a nuclear attack on Poland.

5. Not in Compliance on Other Treaties: The U.S. believes Russia to be in non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. In 2009, the Strategic Posture Commission told Congress: “Russia is no longer in compliance with its PNI [Presidential Nuclear Initiatives] commitments.” Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons arsenal may be 10 times larger than that of the U.S.

6. No Regard for Georgia Independence: Russia has repeatedly broken its promises to withdraw military forces from Georgia and Moldova. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it rewrote the rules of post–World War II European security. It repudiated the Helsinki Pact of 1975, which recognized the security of European borders, and violated the sovereignty of a NATO aspirant and member of the Council of Europe.

7. Responds Offensively to Defensive Measures: In response to U.S. plans for a defensive missile shield in Europe to protect against Iranian missile threats, Moscow has repeatedly threatened to deploy Iskander short-range and nuclear-capable missiles to target U.S. allies in Eastern Europe. Reports show that the Baltic Fleet is armed with nuclear weapons that can be used against Europe.

8. Ties to Terrorist Organizations: Russia cultivates ties with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and provides military and diplomatic support for anti-American “rogue states” such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Russia voted with the U.S. at the U.N. Security Council to pass sanctions on Iran—but only after working hard to water them down to practically nothing.

9. Natural Gas as a Political Weapon: The Kremlin uses its neighbors and Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas as a foreign policy tool to pressure states. In 2009, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and to Europe by extension, causing the International Energy Agency to deem them an unreliable supplier.

10. An Authoritarian Regime: The current model of leadership under President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has become increasingly authoritarian. Despite numerous commitments under international law, the government has tightened controls on political life, civil society, and the media. Disruption of political opposition’s activities, restricting access to state-controlled TV, human right violations (such as the beating of demonstrators who “support” the Russian constitution), murder of journalists and anti-corruption activists, disappearance and torture, abuse of the legal system for monetary and political gain—all illustrate this negative trend.

Woolsey and Heinrichs on the Iranian Missile Threat

July 14th, 2010

Iran missile test

Several months ago, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that in as little as five years, Iran may be capable of hitting the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, with North Korea’s help.

Defense experts James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence and a board member at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Rebeccah Heinrichs, an adjunct fellow at the same organization, discuss this threat in the Wall Street Journal:

“In March of that same year, Gen. Michael Maples, then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate panel that Iran’s successful satellite launch ‘shows progress in mastering the technology needed to produce ICBMs.’ Earlier this year Iran successfully orbited a second satellite with an ICBM-class ballistic missile.

“Gen. Maples is right. If you can launch a satellite into orbit you are very close to being able to hit a target half way around the world. That’s why the Soviet launch of Sputnik so shocked the U.S. intelligence community in 1957. When a country is the most active state sponsor of terrorism, and its leaders routinely endorse slogans like “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” we should take it seriously when they pursue the capabilities to make their dreams a reality.

“A December 2009 missile launch proved Iran has already obtained the ability to reach Israel. Given President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s and other Iranian leaders’ millenarian fanaticism, it would be most imprudent to rely on nuclear deterrence alone to protect us. If Tehran were to achieve a nuclear missile capability, it could hold American cities hostage—unless, that is, the U.S. builds a robust and comprehensive ballistic missile defense.”

Recess Appointment for Philip Coyle

July 7th, 2010

Philip Coyle

Philip Coyle, a missile defense skeptic and critic, was appointed by the president during a congressional recess to serve as associate director for the National Security and International Affairs in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Among other things, Coyle believes U.S. missile defense is unnecessary and doubts that rogue nations like Iran seek to attack the U.S. and its allies.

“In my view, Iran is not so suicidal as to attack Europe or the United States with missiles,” Coyle said last year.” He doubts Iran or North Korea would launch a missile attack against us.

Rebeccah Heinrichs, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote about Coyle in March at The Politico.

“President Barack Obama has nominated an anti-missile defense adviser who may soon receive congressional approval — and put Americans in danger…Russia and China, two countries with nuclear weapons and effective long range ballistic missiles, have helped Iran develop its missile program. Other countries that range from the hostile to the unreliable — for example, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan — also have ballistic missile programs.”

In his 2008 congressional hearing testimony, Coyle claimed that Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) isn’t effective enough to defend Europe and the U.S., but Heinrichs wrote that “a more complex version of GMD had completed a successful intercept test just months before. It is now the only system capable of defending the United States from long-range missiles.”

Despite threats from rogue states, the Obama administration has scaled back missile defense. In fact, some missile defense experts believe Obama compromised our nation’s security and our ability to defend ourselves in exchange for Russia signing the new START.

As Heinrichs said in her article, the new associate director for the National Security and International Affairs appears confident when it comes to rogues states acting rationally, but lacks confidence in his own country’s military leaders and engineers.

Mitt Romney: START Could Be Obama’s Worst Foreign Policy Mistake

July 6th, 2010

Mitt Romney

Former Governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. He was some tough words for the president.

“Given President Obama’s glaring domestic policy missteps, it is understandable that the public has largely been blinded to his foreign policy failings…He castigated Israel at the United Nations but was silent about Hamas having launched 7,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip. His policy of ‘engagement’ with rogue nations has been met with North Korean nuclear tests, missile launches and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, funded terrorists and armed Hezbollah with long-range missiles. He acceded to Russia’s No. 1 foreign policy objective, the abandonment of our Europe-based missile defense program, and obtained nothing whatsoever in return.

“Despite all of this, the president’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New-START) with Russia could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet. The treaty as submitted to the Senate should not be ratified.”

Like other proponents of strong and comprehensive missile defense, Romney believes START limits our missile strategy, despite the administration’s assurances to the contrary.

“Its preamble links strategic defense with strategic arsenal. It explicitly forbids the United States from converting intercontinental ballistic missile silos into missile defense sites. And Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability.

“Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion. Moscow’s vehemence over our modest plans in Eastern Europe demonstrate that such permission would be extremely unlikely.”

Why did President Obama caved to an agreement that benefits mostly Russia? Why is the reasoning behind restricting the defense of our homeland?

“The treaty also gives far more to the Russians than to the United States. As drafted, it lets Russia escape the limit on its number of strategic nuclear warheads. Loopholes and lapses — presumably carefully crafted by Moscow — provide a path to entirely avoid the advertised warhead-reduction targets. For example, rail-based ICBMs and launchers are not mentioned. Similarly, multiple nuclear warheads that are mounted on bombers are effectively not counted. Unlike past treaty restrictions, ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers. This means that Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers — including MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) or multiple warheads — without tripping the treaty’s limits. These omissions would be consistent with Russia’s plans for a new heavy bomber and reports of growing interest in rail-mobile ICBMs.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post.