New Law Restricts U.S. Missile Defense Disclosures to Russia

President Obama is required under legislation signed into law on Saturday to give U.S. lawmakers 60 days' notice before disclosing any sensitive missile defense data to Russia, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said on Thursday (see GSN, Nov. 17, 2011).

Brooks collaborated with Democratic and Republican colleagues to include the measure in defense authorization legislation for fiscal 2012 , according to a press release. The Obama administration has reportedly considered offering some technical information to Russia on the U.S. Standard Missile 3 interceptor to in a bid to assuage Moscow's fears that the technology could threaten its long-range nuclear forces.

"The successful passage of this amendment helps ensure the Russian Federation will not be provided with American hit-to-kill or other sensitive missile defense technology, an act that could weaken U.S. defenses and endanger American lives, except under strict controls and intense congressional oversight," Brooks said in provided remarks.

"Before my amendment, there was no constraint whatsoever on President Obama’s ability or desire to share our missile defense secrets with Russia,” he said.

“The amendment also requires the Executive Branch to guarantee that classified U.S. missile defense technology given to Russia will not be proliferated. Halting such transfers is particularly important since technology shared with Russia could be passed along to third parties, such as North Korea, Iran, or other hostile foreign states. I introduced this amendment because it is vital that America safeguard the missile defense technologies that have cost American taxpayers so much and helped protect America so well,” Brooks said (U.S. Representative Mo Brooks release, Jan. 5).

President Obama, though, in a signing statement said his administration would "interpret and implement [the measure] in a manner that does not interfere with the president's constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications" (White House release, Dec. 31. 2011).

January 6, 2012
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President Obama is required under legislation signed into law on Saturday to give U.S. lawmakers 60 days' notice before disclosing any sensitive missile defense data to Russia, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said on Thursday.