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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid