U.S. Wants to Build Ballistic Missile Defenses For Middle East, Asia

The United States is interested in establishing ballistic missile defenses in the Middle East and Asia that would have structural similarities to a system being developed for Europe, a high-ranking Defense Department official said on Monday (see GSN, Feb. 1, 2010).

The construction of regional antiballistic missile systems to defend the United States and its allies from possible missile attacks by Iran, North Korea and other states could run into Russian and Chinese opposition if the two nations feel the shields would undermine their own defense strategies, Reuters reported.

Washington is engaged in three-way talks on cooperative missile defense with Australia and Japan and with South Korea and Japan, according to Assistant Defense Secretary Madelyn Creedon.

The Asian and Middle Eastern antimissile systems would be derived from the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach," which is being applied in Europe. The model focuses on the deployment over a number of years of increasingly sophisticated sea- and land-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor around the continent.

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance chief Riki Ellison said Beijing could be expected to object to any missile shield built in the East Asia region. China "would take much more offense to the Asian phased adaptive approach than Russia is doing with the European one," Ellison said.

The Obama administration intends to encourage "interoperability and information-sharing" by Gulf Cooperation Council members as those Arab states build up their missile defense programs, Creedon said.

The organization encompasses Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf nations to varying degrees feel threatened by Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.

Separately, a senior Obama envoy walked back a Pentagon statement made earlier this month that the administration was considering sharing sensitive data with Russia on U.S. missile defense systems (see GSN, March 14).

"We are not proposing to provide them with classified information," Obama special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense Ellen Tauscher informed conference attendees. Rather, Washington would invite Russian specialists to track a SM-3 interceptor flight test over open waters, she said.

Republicans have strongly opposed any antimissile data sharing with Moscow as part of U.S. efforts to convince the nuclear power that SM-3 interceptors are not a threat to Russian ICBMs (see related GSN; story, today; Jim Wolf, Reuters, March 26).

March 27, 2012
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The United States is interested in establishing ballistic missile defenses in the Middle East and Asia that would have structural similarities to a system being developed for Europe, a high-ranking Defense Department official said on Monday.