Russia Concerned as U.S. Moves Forward With Unreliable NATO Missile Defense Shield
Author: Monica Amarelo
(WASHINGTON DC) Missile defense is still one issue that enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. The Obama administration’s proposed defensive system is supposed to contain Iran, while strengthening ties with Russia. Unfortunately, missile defense could instead lead to more nuclear weapons and a more dangerous world.
Dr. Yousaf Butt, Scientific Consultant to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a new technical assessment about the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) missile defense system proposed by NATO and the United States. In the report, “Upsetting the Reset: The Technical Basis of Russian Concern Over NATO Missile Defense,” they analyzed whether the Russian Federation has a legitimate concern over the proposed NATO-U.S. missile defense system.
Russia has repeatedly voiced its concern about the U.S. missile defense system in Europe. Over the last two years – as details and analysis of the PAA plan have emerged – Russian officials have questioned its scope and implications for Russia's strategic deterrent forces. Specifically, they fear the possibility that the missile defense system in its later phases might undermine the smaller Russian strategic nuclear forces post-New START.
This week President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to meet in New York during the U.N. General Assembly. At the two-year anniversary mark of President Obama’s announcement of the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense, the United States and Turkey signed an agreement to station U.S. missile defense radar in Turkey. According to this plan, the United States, working with NATO, would ramp up the deployment of sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe in an attempt to guard against future Iranian missiles.
In addition to the Turkish agreement, the Obama administration recently agreed to base SM-3 missile defense batteries in Romania and Poland, and has committed to the deployment of one Aegis ship to the Mediterranean for the missile-defense mission. This spike in activity indicates the commitment of the United States to press ahead with the European missile defense shield.
While the United States continues to work with Russia to find a path forward on missile defense, Russian military strategists know that Iran does not at present have the capabilities to attack Europe. The potential for an arms race depends on Russia's reaction to Washington.
The Russian Federation might react by increasing the number or capabilities of their nuclear-armed missiles and/or by ending or blocking future nuclear arms reductions negotiations with the United States. This will have far-ranging implications for global security, and for President Obama’s goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Before the missile defense system is implemented, Dr. Butt and Prof. Postol recommend a non-partisan peer-reviewed study of its costs and benefits to U.S. and NATO security.
In practice the PAA will provide little, if any, protection leaving nuclear deterrence fundamentally intact. While the PAA would not significantly affect deterrence, it may be seen by cautious Russian planners to impose some attrition on Russian warheads. While midcourse missile defense would not alter the fundamental deterrence equation with respect to Iran or Russia, it may, in the Russian view, constitute an infringement upon the strategic balance set down in New START– especially with regard to the SM-3 Block II interceptors because of their theoretical capability.
Visit the FAS Missile Defense System website.
Read more about Missile Defense on the SSP Blog.
Read op-ed “The Delusion of Missile Defense.”