News / Europe

US, Russia Still at Odds Over Missile Defense

A US sailor looks on from his station next to the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, June 7, 2011 (file photo)
A US sailor looks on from his station next to the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, June 7, 2011 (file photo)

A ballistic missile defense system stationed in Europe has been a contentious issue between the United States and Russia for many years.

The Bush administration first proposed to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic. That proposal addressed Iran’s long-range ballistic missile threat. But in September 2009, President Barack Obama canceled the Bush plan, opting for what experts describe as a more flexible approach.

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research group, said the Obama system is designed to deal with the missile threat that already exists - the short and medium-range missiles that could come from Iran.

“They [Iranians] have short-range ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching their immediate neighbors within a couple hundred kilometers of their border," said Kimball. "They have some medium-range missiles that can strike the edges of Europe and Israel - all of these are armed with conventional warheads.”

Obama missile-defense plan

The Obama plan involves putting SM-3 ground-based interceptors in Poland by 2015 and in Romania by 2018. These are still being developed.

But Marko Papic, analyst with STRATFOR, a private intelligence firm, said there are SM-3 missiles aboard U.S. Navy ships and those are included in the Obama missile defense plan.

“The United States can position wherever the threat is most imminent from," said Papic. "So, for example, the U.S. could steam its vessels into the Baltic Sea or the Mediterranean or the Black Sea and position a counter to potential missile threats from the Middle East or from North Korea from there - which is why the ground-based component of it, it’s not really clear it’s even necessary.”

For years, Russian officials have criticized the U.S. missile defense plan. They do not believe its goal is to defend against possible missile attacks from rogue countries.

Russia's suspicion

Arms control expert Joseph Cirincione said Russia is convinced the U.S. seeks advantage over Moscow, knowing its nuclear forces are slowly declining.

“They are aging and Russia doesn’t have the money to replace them one-for-one," said Cirincione. "They are worried that the U.S. is going to seek some advantage by putting up a ring of anti-missile systems around Russia, supposedly aimed at Iran but the Russians believe secretly aimed at them, and then be able to take out Russia’s nuclear forces in a first strike, mopping up whatever is left by an anti-missile system that could shoot down Russian missiles. That is a complete fantasy, by the way. There is no truth to that whatsoever.”

Papic with STRATFOR said that for Moscow, it really doesn’t matter what kind of missiles the Americans put in place in Europe.

“Because ultimately, the Russian deterrent is not countered by this plan - and that’s because Russia has an overwhelming number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that it could launch on Europe if it really wanted to, with, of course, multiple warheads and things like that. So there is absolutely no way America can prevent an attack.”

Fear of US presence

Papic and others say Russia realizes the military part of its criticism is bogus. But Papic said what is unacceptable to Moscow, is that the U.S. missile defense installations represent a move by American forces into central and Eastern Europe.

“Fundamentally, what Russia doesn’t want to see, is American quote-unquote ‘boots on the ground’ - moving from their positions of Cold War Germany and Western Europe, closer to Russia’s sphere of influence and periphery,” said Papic.

At the NATO summit in Lisbon last year, the United States and Russia agreed to collaborate on the issue of missile defense. Experts say while some progress has been made, Moscow is still fundamentally opposed to the U.S. missile defense plan.


You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid