United States Seeks BMD Comity With Russia; European GMD An Issue
By Michael Sirak
The United States seeks to cooperate with Russia, perhaps in the sharing of ballistic missile early warning data, as it prepares to move forward with building a missile defense site in central Europe, the Department of Defense’s top policy official said.
“We think there is a benefit to cooperating with Russia,” Eric Edelman, under secretary of defense for policy, told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. “We think the [missile] threat is one that they face as well.”
The United States is working toward fielding a missile defense site in central Europe by early next decade to protect Europe and the Eastern part of the United States from long-range ballistic missiles emanating from the Middle East and Near East.
That proposed complex would include an X-band radar site in the Czech Republic and a missile field in Poland hosting 10 silo-based, anti-missile interceptors. Both sites would be U.S.-controlled.
The complex is envisioned to augment the anti-missile capabilities that the United States has fielded in Alaska and the Pacific region to protect the United States from North Korean missiles.
Last week the Czech government agreed to enter into negotiations with the United States. A Polish decision is anticipated soon.
On April 19, the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Russia Council will meet to discuss the issue in Brussels, Edelman said.
Russian officials have come out vehemently against the European site, saying it would pose a threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent, a claim that the United States rejects. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, Jan. 29, 2007, page 1.)
“We don’t think that 10 kinetic interceptors with no explosive warhead, much less nuclear warhead, would pose a threat to Russia’s hundreds of missiles and thousands of warheads,” Edelman said.
While past joint efforts with the Russians have faltered in the realm of ballistic missile defense, such as the satellite experiment called RAMOS, Edelman said he hopes to see a climate emerge in which cooperation is possible.
“Tax and liability issues have been a persistent problem in a lot of areas, both in regard to this kind of technology sharing and also the Cooperative Threat Reduction area,” he said. “I am hopeful that we can overcome this because … we have got a common threat.”
A phone conversation last week between President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have set the stage for constructive dialogue, he said.