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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid