News / USA

    US, Russia Still at Odds on Missile Defense

    The Patriot missile defense system
    The Patriot missile defense system

    Multimedia

    Audio

    The question of missile defense is not addressed in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), recently signed by the United States and Russia.  But the issue remains contentious between Washington and Moscow.

    The New START treaty deals essentially with limiting offensive nuclear forces.

    Under the terms of the pact, each country will have no more than 1,550 deployed strategic, or long-range, nuclear warheads.  It also sets a limit of 700 operationally deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and heavy bombers.  To ensure that neither side violates its treaty obligations, the New START accord has what U.S. officials call strong verification provisions.

    What the treaty does not address directly is the issue of missile defense.  But Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, says the accord mentions the relationship between offensive and defensive weapons.

    "The United States and Russia have for decades understood that there is a relationship between the number of strategic interceptors you have and the number of strategic offensive missiles each side has," said Kimball.  "That has been written into the preamble of previous arms control agreements, including START I of 1991.  This treaty is no different.  In the preamble, the non-binding preamble, it says that there is an interrelationship between the two.  However, the legal limits of the treaty only affect offensive systems."

    For years, Moscow has argued that the proposed U.S. missile defense system is aimed at Russia, a view rejected by American officials.

    John Bolton is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and an arms control expert:

    "We have explained to them ever since 2001, when the [George W.] Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, that the only plans the United States had were to have a national missile defense capability against limited nuclear strikes, against the strikes that rogue states like North Korea or Iran or back then Iraq, might have been capable of," said Bolton.

    But Moscow continues to be concerned about future U.S. missile defense plans to such an extent that Russian officials issued a unilateral statement saying they reserve the right to withdraw from the New START treaty, if Washington's missile defense plans pose what they consider to be a threat to Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent force.

    During testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said such unilateral statements are not new.

    "We have made these unilateral statements on other issues relating to virtually every other strategic arms agreement we've had with the Russians on one subject or another, neither has ever considered them binding," said Secretary Gates

    Gates went on to say that the United States will forge ahead with its missile defense plans.  

    "We are going forward with a second missile defense field at Fort Greeley [Alaska]," added Gates.  "We're putting more than a billion dollars into the two- and three-staged ground-based interceptor programs.  We're buying Thads [air defense missiles].  We're buying Patriot 3s [missile interceptors].  We're buying SM 3s [ballistic missile defense].  We're buying x-band radars [a type of sea-based radar].  We have a comprehensive missile defense program and we are going forward with all of it.  The Russians can say what they want.  These unilateral statements are totally outside the treaty.  They have no standing; they are not binding, never have been."

    Critics of the New START Treaty, such as Ambassador Bolton, say Moscow's unilateral statement hinders U.S. missile defense plans.

    "It is very important given that they have said that if they saw the United States developing a national missile defense capability that troubled them, that would be a right to withdraw from the treaty.  That's a very significant limitation, I think, on U.S. ability to go forward," noted Bolton.

    But most experts say the New START treaty does not hamper U.S. missile defense plans.

    Joseph Cirincione is President of the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation focusing on nuclear weapons policy.

    "The treaty in no way limits U.S. plans for its missile defense, production plans, deployment plans - nothing like that.  And the military commanders in the United States have testified to that," explained Cirincione.  "The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has said it does not limit our U.S. missile defense plans.  The head of the Missile Defense Agency, [Army Lieutenant] General [Patrick] O'Reilly has said that this in no way limits U.S. missile defense plans.  And in fact, we're better off with the treaty than without it."

    To come into effect, the New START treaty must be ratified by the Russian parliament (Duma) and the U.S. Senate.  A total of 67 out of 100 Senators must vote in favor of the pact.  Experts expect the New START treaty to be ratified, but they do not know when the Senate will vote on the accord.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.