U.S. Could Review Missile Shield Plans, Official Says

The incoming Obama administration might re-examine plans to field missile defenses in Europe as part of an upcoming policy report, a nominee for a senior Defense Department position said at her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 13).

The Pentagon could review the planned deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic in the next quadrennial defense review, Defense Undersecretary-designate Michele Flournoy said.

Flournoy made the disclosure when Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, asked whether she considered it important to re-examine the missile shield plan "in the broader security context of Europe, including our relations with Russia," Reuters reported (see GSN, Jan. 15).

"Yes, I do, sir," Flournoy responded. "I think that's an important candidate issue for the upcoming QDR."

In a written reply to a question from the lawmakers, she indicated her belief that the United States could benefit by partnering with Russia on missile defense. "The final contours of such an approach would require close consultations between the Administration and Congress," Flournoy said.

President-elect Barack Obama has expressed support for missile defense while calling for thorough vetting of missile shield systems prior to their deployment. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will retain his post when Obama takes office, also supports missile defense (Andrew Gray, Reuters, Jan. 15).

European countries have urged Obama to seek compromise with Moscow on missile defense initiatives, the New York Times reported earlier this month (Shanker/Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 3).

January 16, 2009
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The incoming Obama administration might re-examine plans to field missile defenses in Europe as part of an upcoming policy report, a nominee for a senior Defense Department position said at her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 13).