An agreement that U.S. missile interceptors will not be aimed at Russian nuclear forces should be approved by legislators in both nations, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a Friday Bloomberg article (see GSN, May 16).
Moscow has repeatedly said a legally binding deal is necessary to address its concerns regarding the intent of the European missile shield being developed by NATO and the United States. Failing that, it has threatened military measures including deployment of short-range ballistic missiles close to NATO territory. Russian General Staff chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov earlier this month said "a decision to use destructive force pre-emptively [against the shield] will be taken in if the situation worsens" (see GSN, May 3).
Brussels and Washington have refused to offer a binding promise, saying the system is not intended as a defense against Russia, but rather a potential missile threat from Iran.
Defense specialists should prepare a targeting accord, which would gain authority through ratification by the U.S. and Russian legislatures, Antonov told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“We don’t want to be dependent on one man in the White House,” Antonov said. “What if a new leader comes in November and dismisses all that the previous one has done?”
While President Obama was overhead telling his then-Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on March 26 that he would have more "flexibility" to negotiate the issue following the November presidential election, senior officials have since then restated the administration's rejection of a binding deal. There has also been no indication that Congress would approve such an agreement.
NATO is expected to use its two-day summit that begins on Sunday in Chicago to cite an "interim" missile defense capability (see related GSN story, today).
“We are urging our colleagues to think about the consequences before making any decisions on the missile shield at the Chicago summit,” Antonov said (Stepan Kravchenko, Bloomberg, May 18).