Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program would remove the justification for NATO missile defenses.
Cancellation of the planned fourth phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach has removed any capability that the fully deployed system would have had to intercept Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles but does not diminish the system’s capability against Iranian missiles.
The Defense Department announced last month that it has identified five possible locations in the eastern United States for a new ballistic missile defense interceptor site, but said it still has no plans to actually build such a site.
President Barack Obama's proposals today in Berlin for cutting the oversized U.S. nuclear arsenal and reducing global nuclear weapons dangers are welcome and overdue.
Russian and U.S. officials are trading proposals on missile defense cooperation, possibly leading to another round of nuclear stockpile reductions. Russia says it is open to U.S. offers, but no agreement has been reached.
Removing a major roadblock to Russian support for another round of nuclear arms reductions, the Department of Defense last month effectively canceled the fourth phase of its plans to deploy missile interceptors in Europe over the next decade.
China successfully launched a land-based missile interceptor Jan. 28, according to Xinhua, the country’s official news agency.
Although plans for expanding U.S. strategic missile defenses focus on the Iranian ICBM threat, that threat is not emerging as was previously predicted. Iran conducted no long-range ballistic missile tests in 2012 and has not flown even the larger space launch vehicle that it displayed two years ago, which could have helped advance ICBM technology. Moreover, Tehran has still not decided to build nuclear weapons and continues to focus on short- and medium-range rather than longer-range ballistic missiles.