Russia Vows Anew To Demolish Any U.S.-European Missile Defense System
Russia Lambasted For Continued Occupation Of Georgian Provinces; Asian Nations Provide $40 Million Low-Interest Loan To Georgia
But Some U.S. Lawmakers Still Are Cool To Providing Funds Required To Build Missile Shield In Poland, Czech Republic
As Polish leaders bravely refused to back down from their agreement permitting the United States to install a missile defense system on Polish soil, Russia threatened anew to annihilate the defensive system if it is built.
The Boeing Co. [BA] would lead the missile defense development project, if it occurs.
But some Democratic members of the U.S. Congress still are cool to funding the European defense shield, even though it has won backing from NATO and governments of the Czech Republic (radar) and Poland (interceptors).
The Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee, for example, is considering cuts to U.S. missile defense programs still in development, such as the European installation, while favoring already-developed missile defense systems.
Those lawmakers say the European interceptors should be tested, which would take years, even though the European interceptors essentially would be a two-stage version of the three-stage interceptors already deployed in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system in Alaska and California.
Some Asian nations, dismayed by Russian bullying tactics used against Georgia, now a sovereign state, slapped Moscow by providing a $40 million Asian Development Bank loan to Georgia, the International Herald Tribune reported. And a further bank loan may be approved soon, because Georgia has seen its tax collections devastated by the Russian invasion.
The bank, which represents nations including Japan, China, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, had a meeting of its executive board, which approved the loan at the lowest possible interest rate of 1 percent for eight years, and then 1.5 percent annually.
The 32-year loan had been on the bank agenda before Russian forces surged into Georgia, but that action spurred faster loan approval, according to reports.
While Russian troops have withdrawn from some areas of Georgia, they still occupy and operate checkpoints in the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and Ossetia, which Moscow now has recognized as sovereign and independent nations.
The situation attracted a toughly worded criticism in a Wall Street Journal editorial, which asked how it is that Polish leaders are sticking their necks out to approve the American missile defense shield in defiance of Russians threatening to drop a nuclear weapon on the shield, but in Washington there is weak support for the Polish stand.
The fracas also has spread into U.S. presidential politics. A spokeswoman for Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic presidential candidate, said Congress shouldn’t fund the European missile defense shield without tests that would run into 2010 at the soonest.
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, has met with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Kirk has sponsored a bill that, if passed, would restore full funding for the European missile system.
The Journal editorial said comments from Obama and some key Democrats in Congress have to make Polish leaders wonder whether they are making a courageous stand against Russia, in light of the invasion of nearby Georgia, only to have American lawmakers refuse to follow through and fund the missile defense shield, a situation that would leave the Czechs and Poles betrayed.
"The point of defenses is to deploy them before a threat is real, so we aren’t caught by surprise," the editorial noted. U.S. military leaders wish to deploy a shield against missiles fired toward Europe or the United States from Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, which is a client state of Russia. Progress is being made, steadily, with the Airborne Laser system entering new, longer tests of the missile-killing laser. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.)
Iran is procuring missiles of steadily longer ranges. The rogue nation thus far repeatedly has mass-fired missiles in salvo launches; fired a missile from a submerged submarine; and announced a space program that would include satellite launches, which would involve much the same technology as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Too, Iran persists in producing nuclear materials in the face of global condemnation, materials that Iran has said are for electrical power generation but which Western leaders fear will be used to construct nuclear weapons that could be fitted atop missiles.
Finally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be wiped from the map, and that Israel soon shall cease to exist.
While some U.S. estimates projected that Iran wouldn’t have the capability to produce nuclear weapons to launch on missiles before 2013 or even 2015, Israeli intelligence has indicated it could be by 2010.
Iran has plans for thousands of centrifuges to produce more nuclear materials, faster.