Missile Defense: Cooperation or Contention? Ballistic Missile Threats to NATO and U.S. Response
Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
Brookings, Washington, D.C.
May 17, 2012
Now that NATO has achieved the first tangible step toward the missile defense goals it established at
Missile Threat and Missile Defense Response Not New
The threat to NATO Europe and to the
Cost-benefit analysis showed that such defenses could be defeated by relatively inexpensive counter-measures and proliferation of warheads. The Nixon administration also realized that limiting Soviet defenses by treaty would head off a potential threat to the credibility of the
The New Threat
There was, of course, a new ballistic missile threat that arose in the late 1990s -- from newly emerging states of proliferation concern. At the top of our list, were
Amplified by a North Korean satellite launch attempt in 1998, these grim assessments created a political tidal wave that profoundly affected the course of
In the Missile Defense Act of 1999, the U.S. Congress committed the nation to “deploying an effective national missile defense system (against a limited missile attack) as soon as technologically possible.” In the wake of 9/11, President Bush secured strategic missile defense procurement and accelerated deployment. He also announced
In providing more than $8 billion per year over the last decade, the Congress has not challenged the dubious technological premises of the strategic missile defense program, which have been exposed in numerous studies. (For example: by the GAO (Government Accountability Office); the National Academy of Sciences; the Defense Science Board; the Pentagon’s own Director for Operational Test and Evaluation.)
It’s all about us
For many members of the U.S. Congress, missile defenses in
In spite of the ubiquitous rhetoric about the “growing ballistic missile threat,” the threat posed by
And let us not forget the end of the missile threat from
The only country that could pose a new potential missile threat to Europe in the foreseeable future is
Without nuclear warheads, or improved guidance systems, Iranian missiles pose a very limited threat to military bases, oil facilities, and cities in the region, and virtually no threat to specific point targets like the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona. Against short- and medium-range missiles with conventional warheads, missile defenses can limit damage and casualties and, even if technically deficient, can provide a psychological boost to threatened populations.
Strategic/Non-Strategic Missile Defense Distinction
There is an important distinction between strategic and non-strategic missile defenses. For strategic, successful intercepts are much harder; the consequences of failure much more catastrophic; and the impact on strategic arms control often fatal.
Once upon a time,
For proponents of strategic missile defenses, there was a reason to blur the distinction. Conflating “strategic” with “theater” prejudiced the ABM Treaty, obscuring the fact that most of the things we wanted to do to defend against actual rogue state missile threats were already permitted by the treaty.
Theater and Tactical Missile Defenses Beneficial
This ancient history is relevant to our discussion this morning because the tactical and theater missile defenses NATO is deploying benefit
The mobile and networked anti-ICBM capabilities intended for EPAA phase 4 are another matter. And when
I’m concerned about NATO heading into a cul-de-sac with plans for achieving full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces.”
This language takes me back to my days in high school. In 1967, Secretary of Defense McNamara announced plans for building the Sentinel ABM system, to protect the
Safeguard used the same interceptors and the same radars as Sentinel, but the new
Now fast forward. The Republican candidate in our current presidential race, who opposed the New START treaty and still regards it as a mistake, has just asserted that
We have another potential change in administrations coming. How should
With that rhetorical question hanging, I will yield the mic to David [Hoffman].