U.S., Russia Should Collaborate on Missile Defense, Obama Says

The United States should find a way to collaborate with Russia in establishment of missile defenses, U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 29).

"It is important for us to reach out to Russia and explore ways in which the missile defense configurations that we envision could potentially lead to further collaboration," Obama said after meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"We want to improve generally not only U.S.-Russian relations, but also NATO-Russian relations, while making absolutely clear that our commitments to all of our allies in NATO is sacrosanct," the president added, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Obama administration earlier this month scrapped a Bush-era plan to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow had strenuously objected to the initiative as a threat to its strategic security and threatened to deploy short-range missiles near Poland if the plan came to fruition (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, Sept. 29).

Russia yesterday indicated it has concerns about the new program for U.S. missile defenses in Europe, which would focus on deployment of sea- and land-based versions of the Standard Missile 3 system, Reuters reported. The intent is to provide defenses against short- and medium-range missiles -- particularly from Iran -- that could target U.S. allies or forces on the continent.

"Where are the guarantees that this mobile thing, be it a boat, a cruiser, or a battleship with a mounted missile-defense system and with missile interceptors, will not sail into our northern seas?" Dmitry Rogozin, the Kremlin's envoy to NATO, told reporters in Moscow.

"We need guarantees that the parameters of deploying these antimissile (interceptors) will in fact be restricted to small- and medium-range missiles and that they will not encroach on those territories that have serious heavy ground-based or submarine-launched ballistic missiles," Rogozin said (Conor Sweeney, Reuters/Washington Post, Sept. 29).

Rogozin expressed cautious support for Rasmussen's pitch for missile-defense collaboration between NATO and Russia, RIA Novosti reported.

"If we are convinced that the European missile-defense initiative is not part of a U.S. theater missile-defense system, such efforts are possible," he said (RIA Novosti I, Sept. 29).

The diplomat also wondered aloud whether climate change would enable the United States to deploy missile defenses in the Arctic, RIA Novosti reported. Rising temperatures might create a year-round opening through one northern shipping lane that is now covered by ice 44 weeks per year, Rogozin asserted.

"The ice would retreat, it would melt, which means that NATO would definitely be present in the Arctic. They have been planning it for a long time, and under the very bad circumstances the U.S. strategic missile defense would arrive there on board these ships," he said (RIA Novosti II, Sept. 29).

September 30, 2009
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The United States should find a way to collaborate with Russia in establishment of missile defenses, U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 29).

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