The United States' ambassador to NATO on Monday said Washington continues to hope for an antimissile deal with Russia but that U.S. plans for European missile defense would move forward with or without Moscow's participation, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Jan. 20).
The Obama administration is implementing its "phased adaptive approach" for protecting Europe from feared Iranian ballistic missile attacks. The plan involves the phased fielding over the next eight years of increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe. The U.S. military has already established an early warning radar system in Turkey and has reached deals with Poland, Romania and Spain to host Standard Missile 3 interceptors. The U.S. effort forms the backbone of a wider NATO endeavor to establish a missile shield that would augment and coordinate individual nations' missile defense programs.
"We would like to do this in cooperation with Russia, but we will do it even if we can't find a way to cooperate," Ambassador Ivo Daalder said.
NATO has scheduled a May summit in Chicago that would consider next steps for missile defense cooperation. The military alliance had hoped during the event to announce an antimissile agreement with Russia, but recent statements by both sides have shown they remain divided on a number of issues.
A key dispute is Moscow's insistence on a legally enforceable pledge that U.S. interceptors in Europe would never be aimed at Russian long-range nuclear weapons. The Obama administration has offered a nonbinding promise on the matter.
The Kremlin has threatened to deploy short-range missiles and an air-defense system in territory that borders NATO states if a compromise with Washington and Brussels is not reached.
Daalder reaffirmed the Obama administration's position that Russia has nothing to fear from U.S. antimissile plans in Europe (Associated Press/Washington Post, Jan. 23).
Meanwhile, Poland has expressed concerns about the potential for U.S. defense spending reductions to curb deployment of the European missile shield, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The U.S. Defense Department is preparing for budget cuts of close to $500 billion -- if not more -- over the coming 10 years.
"From Poland's point of view, the worst-case scenario is that Russia, sensitive to this issue, as a retaliation places various elements in Kaliningrad while the missile shield, now reviewed by Americans, never comes true," according to a senior government source in Warsaw (Reuters/WHNT.com, Jan. 24)
Meanwhile, Thales Raytheon Systems has inked a $3 million agreement with NATO to provide critical support for a preliminary ballistic missile defense system based at the alliance's Air Command, in Ramstein, Germany, the website Signal Scape reported on Monday (see GSN, Jan. 6).
The contract, to be completed within three months, would equip the Western military alliance with the ability to carry out around-the-clock missile defense activities while also maintaining command and control operations for battlefield antimissile operations (George Seffers, Signal Scape, Jan. 23).