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Protecting America in the New Missile Age


NATO Missile Defense

November 16th, 2010

Sources report that NATO allies may be close to agreeing to expand missile shields in Europe. On Friday, members will meet at a two-day summit to vote on the issue and to discuss related matters.

Among other things, NATO seeks Russia’s cooperation in expanding missile defense in Europe. Russia strongly disapproved of Bush-era plans to deploy missiles shields to Poland and the Czech Republic. President Barack Obama scrapped those plans and said the new plan would entail shorter-range missiles.

An excerpt of the article:

“The Obama administration canceled the original plan in September 2009, proposing instead a reconfigured missile shield that would begin with ship-based interceptors and radars, followed by more advanced land-based interceptors to be deployed in Romania by 2015 and Poland by 2018. This is to be the core U.S. contribution to NATO’s European missile defense system.

“The U.S. has asked Turkey, also a member of NATO, to host some of the radar defenses and to approve the proposal for a Europe-wide defense network. Turkey has hesitated, saying it does not want the system explicitly to target its neighbor, Iran.

“U.S. officials close to pre-summit talks were optimistic that the proposed European missile shield’s remaining obstacles could be overcome. They said Russia seems to be seriously considering NATO’s plan, while Turkey’s concerns could be finessed.”

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is optimistic about Russia’s cooperation. “I think we are witnessing a fresh start in the relationship between NATO and Russia, and maybe I could go further and say a fresh start in the relationship between Russia and the West. I think this is of huge strategic importance.” (Source)

Russia claimed Bush-era missile shield plans were a threat to its national security. It’s difficult to believe Russia would now approve the more widespread missile shield plan NATO proposes. Locations include countries like Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. The purpose of these shields is to defend against Iran, but Turkey said it won’t agree if NATO names Iran as a threat.

Russia Willing to Listen to NATO

November 1st, 2010

Last month we blogged about the upcoming NATO summit and secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s goal to expand NATO’s threater missile system in Europe. Among other things, NATO seeks Russia’s cooperation in the expansion.

In the New York Times, Rasmussen wrote: “Missiles pose an increasing threat to our populations, territory and deployed forces. Over 30 countries have or are acquiring missiles that could be used to carry not just conventional warheads, but also weapons of mass destruction. Some of those missiles can already reach European cities, and the problem will only get worse.”

According to RIA Novosti, Russia seems amenable to at least considering NATO’s proposal. During talks with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Admiral James G. Stavridis, Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov said, “On the majority of problematic issues we found a common approach – there are certain disagreements, but I think these…will be very attentively studied and we will certainly come to a general understanding and a common opinion.”

Rasmussen also seeks Turkey’s support in missile defense expansion. (Sources also reported that the U.S. would expand missile defense in Turkey.) According to the Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu (pictured) implied that his country wouldn’t oppose NATO’s plans.

“NATO can develop defense systems by taking into consideration security risks,” and his country’s opposition “is out of the question.” Rasmussen will meet with Russian officials ahead of the NATO member nations summit on November 19 and 20 is Portugal.

Will Turkey Support NATO Missile Shield?

October 26th, 2010

Last week we mentioned that NATO seeks Turkey’s support in its effort to expand missile defense in Europe. The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey’s National Security Council will meet this week to discuss whether the country will support NATO’s goal to build missile shields against Iran and other rogue nations. Turkey’s hesitancy seems to stem from a possible backlash from rogue state Iran and Russia.

“For Turkey, however, the Obama administration’s scaled-back plan is proving a major diplomatic headache, forcing Ankara to choose between NATO and Iran. It is also triggering a fierce debate inside the country over where Turkey’s core interests lie. In recent days, Turkey’s religious conservative and pro-government media have argued that siding with NATO against Iran would end Turkey’s effort to build an independent foreign policy and damage its credibility in the Middle East.

“Both U.S. and Turkish leaders say no decision has yet been made as to which countries will host the system. Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are in the frame, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. But Turkey, which shares a border with Iran, is the location of choice for the plan’s forward radar, according to military analysts and diplomats.

“So far, Turkish leaders have remained non-committal about the missile plan and have asked Washington for assurances and technical details. According to diplomats familiar with the matter, these include: not naming Iran or any other specific country as the source of the threat that the missile system is designed to counter; ensuring that all of Turkey’s territory is covered by the system; ensuring that Turkey has access to all data and a measure of control over the decision to fire; and guaranteeing that non-NATO members, and specifically Israel, wouldn’t gain access to the data.”

Next month, NATO member countries will vote on whether to expand missile defense in Europe to cover NATO territory. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, making the case for cooperation and why expanding missile defense is important.

Russia, which opposed U.S. plans to build missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic, expressed concerns, on national security grounds, about expanding NATO’s protection reach.

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.

Missile Shields in Turkey?

August 3rd, 2010

Last year, sources speculated 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. Reuters reported that the administration might sell $7.8 billion worth of Patriot “fire units,” missiles, and other weapons to Turkey.

Called “one of the biggest U.S. government-to-government arms sales in years,” the deal would help Turkey, which borders rogue state Iran, defend itself against missile threats. The Washington Post reported this week that the U.S. is “nearing a deal” to set up a radar ground station “probably in Turkey or Bulgaria.”

The U.S. is also working with Israel to help upgrade its missile defense system. The possible radar station in Turkey and the system in Israel would help both countries defend against Iranian attacks. Russia opposes missile defense shields in Europe, claiming they would threaten its national security. Missile defense experts are concerned that the Obama administration compromised U.S. security for Russia’s agreement on START and help containing Iran.

U.S. Vies for Turkish Arms Sale

December 1st, 2009

Patriot missileIn September, sources reported that the U.S. was interested in selling $7.8 billion worth of Patriot fire units, missiles, and other weapons to Turkey. The arms would help Turkey, which borders Iran, defend itself against missile threats. Today’s Global Post reports that Russia and China also seek to sell missile defense systems to Turkey.

Defense contractors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will bid for the contract. If successful, the sale would be the “largest single Turkish purchase of military equipment to date.” However, Turkey’s military said it won’t pay over $1 billion for a missile defense system.

In light of the IAEA’s censure against Iran and Iran’s threat to build 10 more nuclear sites, the arms sale couldn’t be more timely. “It’s clearly not in Turkey’s interest to see a nuclear Iran; they don’t want to see a nuclear-armed competitor on their border,” said Ian Lesser, a senior transatlantic f’llow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “But they do fear that this can happen. And modernizing Turkey’s air defense system looks pretty important from that perspective.”

According to the source, Turkey denies its defense system sale is related to Iran. Why? Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “We neither have a perception of threat from any of the neighboring countries, nor have any military- or security-related preparation against them.”

Whatever you say, Mr. Davutoglu. After all, Iran has claimed its nuclear ambitions are “peaceful” and “scientific.”

Missile Shields in Turkey?

September 15th, 2009

Last week we reported that the Obama administration turned its back on deploying missile defense shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, and it’s speculated that countries like Israel and Turkey will be alternative sites. Reuters reports that the administration may sell $7.8 billion worth of Patriot “fire units,” missiles, and other weapons to Turkey.

Called “one of the biggest U.S. government-to-government arms sales in years,” the deal would help Turkey, which borders rogue state Iran, defend itself against missile threats. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, “Turkey is a partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in the region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability that will contribute to an acceptable military balance in the area.”

One can make a fairly accurate guess how Turkey’s neighbor, Iran, will react to such a sale.

Reuters also reports on possible sales between the U.S. and Jordan and the U.S. and Morocco. The U.S. would sell $220 million worth of artillery rockets to Jordan and $187 million worth of F-16 fighter-carried weapons to Morocco.

Linton Brooks on the Iran Nuclear Challenge

May 6th, 2009

Linton BrooksLinton F. Brooks, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S. nuclear weapons policy, comments on the challenge we face regarding Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Brooks, who has experience in arms negotiating, says once Iran gains a nuclear weapon, countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia likely will follow. He calls this challenge bigger than the problem of North Korea. An excerpt of Brooks’s interview:

Let’s talk about Iran, because that’s the issue that gets the most attention these days. The Iranians keep insisting that they’re only enriching uranium for purposes of peaceful nuclear power development. Yet everybody around the world seems to assume that they’re doing this to have the possibility to develop nuclear weapons. What’s your read on this situation?

“They’re at minimum preserving the option. I have no idea whether they’ve made any firm decisions, but what we know is that they have been in violation of their International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] safeguards. We know that they have been in violation of UN Security Council resolutions calling on them to suspend the enrichment. We believe that there was a military program. We know that enrichment is the long pole of the tent. Every economic analysis shows that it would be far more cost-effective for them to accept, for example, the Russian offer for joint enrichment at Angarsk, in Russia.

“What seems to be going on is a combination of two things. One is national pride. The Iranians are a proud people who are very conscious of the fact that they are part of an ancient civilization. There is an element of national pride. It’s very hard to find an Iranian who doesn’t support their nuclear program in some way or another. But it also appears to many of us that they are at least preserving the option for acquiring nuclear weapons. I certainly believe that, and the Task Force makes the point that they can produce a weapon with highly enriched uranium within a few months.”

Missile Defense Quick Links for Monday

April 27th, 2009

>> This weekend the New York Times published a story that highlighted opposing reactions to North Korea’s recent rocket launch. While some considered the launch a failure because the rocket didn’t reach its target, others see the bigger picture: North Korea’s willingness to continue developing and testing its ballistic missile capability.

Missile defense naysayer Philip E. Coyle III said, “The advocates [of missile defense] want to scare people, so they hype the threat.”

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance president Riki Ellison said, “North Korea has successfully tested a long-range ballistic missile. This success coupled with the North Korean nuclear weapons makes North Korea a nuclear threat.” (NYT)

ABL>> The Missile Defense Agency announced that the Airborne Laser (ABL) prototype aircraft achieved flight certification last week as it returned to Edwards Air Force Base. Called a critical milestone, the ABL integrated aboard a 747 aircraft will provide “speed of light capability” against missiles in the boost phase and other missions. (MDA)

>> RIA Novosti reports that Turkey, a member of NATO, wants to buy S-400 Triumf air defense systems from Russia. An unnamed source implied such a sale would be complicated. NATO and Russia don’t see eye-to-eye on U.S. plans to build missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic.

“We have explained to Turkish officials that S-400 is not just a simple air defense system but an element of strategic missile defenses, which can be placed in one country but protect the airspace over a number of neighboring countries,” he said. (RIA Novosti)

>> Israel has agreed to supply India with missile defense technology in an effort to boost strategic ties between the two countries. Both countries face missile threats from Muslim countries. India will receive Barak ground-to-air missiles from Israel. (ISN)

Missile Defense Quick Links

August 14th, 2008

Henry Obering*** Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lt. Gen. Henry Obering is set to retire, ending his 35-year military career. Among his other accomplishments, Obering helped the National Reconnaissance Office secure an out-of-control spy satellite loaded with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel. The office was concerned the fuel would kill people when the satellite landed. Using a missile interceptor, the agency shot down the satellite. (Source)

*** To protect itself against “possible missile attack,” Turkey intends to acquire eight missile defense systems, according to Murat Bayar, an undersecretary for Defense Ministry. The first target date is 2010. Turkey is negotiating with China, Israel, Russia, and the U.S. to obtain these systems. (Source)

*** An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile launched successfully earlier this week, according to the U.S. Air Force. Traveling about 4,220 miles over the Pacific, the missile’s targets were close to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Source)

*** For the first time, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Aegis radar systems worked together to destroy a warhead dummy target just below the 60-mile envelope of the earth’s atmosphere off the Hawaiian coast in June. According to MDA spokesman Rick Lehner, “THAAD radar was able to direct and cue the Aegis radar,” which was “very significant for the missile defense infrastructure to be able to pass along radar cues to other platforms like Aegis.” (Source)