Russia Claims ICBM Defeats BMD, As Bush Visits Czech, Polish Leaders
Russia claims it has a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can penetrate any ballistic missile shield, after a test launch of the new weapon went zooming across the Eurasian nation, according to the Associated Press.
Russia also is stating that it has completed a preliminary test of a cruise missile with a longer range.
And Russia’s top leader stated that Russia will target Europe with the new ICBMs, which have multiple independent warheads capable of penetrating missile shields, if the United States moves to establish a ground-based midcourse missile defense (GMD) system to protect European nations and U.S. troops there, and the United States.
The GMD missile defense system would involve a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in silos in Poland.
But Russia has objected to the plan in strong terms, stating that the GMD system would be aimed at defeating Russian ICBMs, even though the United States has argued repeatedly that the GMD system would target enemy missiles launched by Middle Eastern nations such as Iran.
A Russian leader, Sergei Ivanov, first deputy prime minister, was quoted as saying that Russia has tested its new ICBM.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also warned that if the United States presses forward with building the GMD system, it would turn the region into “a powder keg,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that “the arms race is starting again,” according to news reports.
Russia’s blustering talk comes as President Bush is preparing to negotiate with Czech Republic leaders in Prague, and then with Polish leaders in Warsaw on Friday, to gain their agreement to formation of the GMD system.
To help defuse the burgeoning U.S.-Russian tensions, Bush invited Putin to a getaway at Bush’s parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine, July 1 and 2, where they can discuss in a relaxed atmosphere their differences in the European missile defense plan and other issues where the two nations are at odds.
In the midst of the war of words, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a zinger at the Russians. Her comments came after the United States repeatedly argued that there is no chance that GMD interceptors in Europe would be able to take out Russian ICBMs. According to The Washington Post, Rice noted that Russia boasted it can penetrate any Western ballistic missile defense shield, which of course would include the installation in Europe. Tongue firmly in cheek, Rice retorted, “We quite agree.”
The rising tensions between the two former rival Cold War superpowers have developed just as Congress is weighing how much money to provide for initial steps on the European missile defense system.
In the House, a defense authorization bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, slashed all $160 million set for initial steps in establishing the interceptor silos site in Poland. That will have to be reconciled with a Senate Armed Services Committee measure that would cut much less, $85 million, from the total $310.4 million that Bush requested for both the Czech Republic and Polish sites.
Backers of the European GMD system have objected that this is no time to slow its development, noting that Iran is working furiously to develop new missile capabilities, and to produce nuclear materials.
Despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure, Iran has persisted in spinning a huge number of centrifuges, perhaps more than 1,300 of the machines. And Iran has performed simultaneous tests of ballistic missiles, and launched a missile from a submerged submarine.
Rice still insists that the U.S. position is that Iran must cease its uranium enrichment program before she would engage in talks on its nuclear program.
The European missile defense site would be the third in the U.S. GMD system, adding to those already in place at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.