Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (looks on during a visit
to an early-warning radar station near the town of Dunayevo
in the Kaliningrad region. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA
The Obama Administration plans to complete an
anti-ballistic missile shield to protect European allies
against Iran "whether Russia likes it or not," the US envoy to
NATO said today.
Moscow's objections to the project, which includes
participation by Romania, Poland, Turkey and Spain, "won't be
the driving force in what we do," Ivo Daalder, the
ambassador, told reporters at a breakfast session.
The US estimate of the Iranian ballistic missile threat has
gone up, not down, over the two years since President Barack
Obama opted for a new, four-phased deployment to protect the
United States and NATO allies, Daalder said.
"It's accelerating," Daalder said of the US-perceived threat
of Iran's ballistic missiles, "and becoming more severe than
even we thought two years ago."
"We're deploying all four phases, in order to deal with that
threat, whether Russia likes it or not," he added. At the
same time, he urged Moscow to cooperate in both to deal with
Iran and to see for itself that, as he put it, the system's
capabilities pose its strategic deterrent force no threat.
If the perceived threat from Iran ebbs, "then maybe the
system will be adapted to that lesser threat," Daalder said.
Obama pleased the Kremlin in September 2009 by scrapping his
predecessor's plan for longer-range interceptor missiles in
Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic, a move
that helped to improve US-Russian ties.
But Moscow says that the revised version, using land- and
sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors, could undermine
its security if planned interceptor improvements become
capable of neutralizing Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent
Washington and NATO have invited Russia to join in some
aspects of the project, including possible joint early
warning. Before agreeing to any such cooperation, Moscow is
demanding a legally binding pledge from the United States
that Moscow's nuclear forces would not be targeted by the
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that if
the deadlock continues, Moscow would boost its early-waring
radar to protect its nuclear missile sites, deploy weapons
that could overcome a shield and potentially target missile
defence installations to its south and west.
With NATO continuing largely to shrug off Russia's concerns,
Moscow's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, was quoted as
saying this week that Russia may review its cooperation with
the supply route through Russia for NATO forces in
Daalder said the sides remain at odds over, among other
things, Russia's demand for the legally binding pledge,
before any cooperation, that its nuclear forces would not be
targeted by the NATO elements.
"They have gotten themselves quite hung up on our
unwillingness to put this in legally binding writing," he
The administration was not convinced that such a pledge would
be ratified by the US Senate, he said, nor should Moscow be
convinced that even if it were, "we wouldn't necessarily at
some point walk away from it," as the George W. Bush
administration did from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, the only US-Russia missile defence pact.
That withdrawal opened the way for the creation of an
anti-missile defence shield that the US government says is
designed to protect the United States from countries like
Iran and North Korea.
Daalder said that if the United States ever were placing
interceptors to counter Russia's nuclear missiles, "we
wouldn't deploy them in Europe. We would deploy them in the
The physics of missile defence intercepts make it "easier and
better to approach an incoming missile from the opposite side
than it is to try to chase it down." he said. "That's the way
that it works."