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U.S. Missile Defense Plans in Europe

John C. Rood, Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Remarks at NATO Defense College
Washington, DC
April 24, 2008

(As prepared for delivery)

I am pleased to have .the opportunity to meet with you today. The NATO Defense College has a distinguished history and continues to play an important role in educating future leaders, conducting outreach, and providing fresh perspectives on major alliance issues through its research.

I am sure that your studies have furthered your understanding of the complexities and uncertainties associated with today's international security environment. One of our most beloved writers, Mark Twain, once said that "Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty."

It was just such a transformation of the international security environment that has taken us from the relative "miserable uncertainty" during the Cold War to the "miserable uncertainty" of the post-Cold War days. The world's least responsible states are pursuing the development and deployment of ballistic missiles of increasingly greater ranges, payloads, lethality, and sophistication. That led President Bush, in 2002, to direct that we develop and deploy a missile defense capability to protect the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies and friends. Since that time, we have made tremendous progress. The Bucharest Communique and the decision by the United States and Czech Republic to proceed with signing a Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement represent major steps forward in our response to the increasing threat to Allies' forces, territory and populations.

President Bush came into office recognizing that the contemporary and emerging missile threat is fundamentally different from the Cold War. At one time, ownership of ballistic missiles belonged to an elite club. In the last 30 years however, the number of states possessing ballistic missiles has increased from eight in 1972 to 26 in 2008. With the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, hostile states -- and possibly non-state actors -- could threaten us with immense destruction and loss of life. As French President Sarkozy said on March 21,2008, "Today we must all be mindful of the fact that the nuclear missiles of even distant powers can reach Europe in less than half an hour. Currently only the Great Powers have such means. But other countries, in Asia and the Middle East, are vigorously developing ballistic capabilities. I am thinking in particular of Iran. Iran is increasing the range of its missiles, while grave suspicions surround its nuclear program. It is indeed Europe's security that is at stake."

Our adversaries, like Iran, seek to coerce us and prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies and friends. This subverts the very core of NATO's principle of the indivisibility of Allied security, as well as NATO solidarity. The decision at Bucharest places NATO on a path to address the increasing threat from the Middle East by states such as Iran.

In his testimony before Congress on March 5,2008, Lieutenant General Maples, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, noted that: "Iran continues to develop and acquire ballistic missiles that can hit Israel and central Europe, including Iranian claims of an extended-range variant of the Shahab-3 and a new 2,000 kilometer medium-range ballistic missile called the "Ashura." Beyond the steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new submunitions payloads."

For his part, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has been very open about Iran's intentions. Last fall Iran publicly claimed it had developed a new missile with a range of 2000 kilometers. On February 4, Iran claimed it conducted a sub-orbital test of a rocket with a payload designed to collect data on the space environment.

Furthermore, Tehran claimed it will use this data to put its first domestically produced satellite, "Omid" (Hope), into orbit as soon as May or June of this year. The rocket launched on February 4 appeared to be a Shahab-3, based on the videos released by Iran.

Iran also released photographs and videos of a new system in development called "Safir." This system appears to be much larger than the Shahab-3 and it probably is the system Tehran will use when they attempt to place the "Omid" satellite into orbit. The immediate relevance to missile defense is that many of the technological building blocks involved in the development of space launch vehicles are the same as those required to develop long-range ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.

I know there are some commentators who would challenge the idea that Iran has the technology base to develop ballistic missiles of an intercontinental range. But we have been surprised before at how rapid.1~a nation can make technological advances, and as students of military history you know that surprise has been a constant of military affairs. I am sure the first Bronze Age warrior was no doubt surprised by his Iron Age opponent, while Philip VI and his knights were in for a rude awakening when they faced Edward 111's longbow men at Crecy.

We have been surprised at how rapidly a nation can make technological advances, as demonstrated by North Korea's 1998 launch of a Taepo-dong-1 over Japan. In recent history, North Korea's launch of seven missiles on July 4 and 5, 2006 demonstrated a high degree of operational sophistication and reliability. Six of the DPRK's seven launches were successes, with only the Taepo-dong-2 launch ending in failure. Knowing that there has been cooperation on ballistic missile development between Iran and North Korea, it remains possible that Iran may be able to accelerate its missile programs, including acquisition of longer-range missiles, through foreign assistance. History is replete with "technical mercenaries" who have sold their know-how and skills. The capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, fell in 1453 in part because a Hungarian provided the Ottomans with the know-how to cast a huge cannon, capable of throwing a 1200 pound projectile into Constantinople's once impregnable walls. A.Q. Khan's proliferation of nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya, and Iran represents just the most modem manifestation of the technical mercenary who can accelerate an adversary's weapons development.

I have talked a lot about Iranian capabilities -- one element of what constitutes the definition of a "threat" -- let me just take a few moments to talk about .the other element -- "intent". Why is Iran developing missiles capable of reaching Europe and, we believe, beyond? President Ahmadinejad has spoken very plainly about his intent over the years. He has talked about "wiping Israel off the map", and, in the context of a possible Israeli-Palestinian war, threatened our European allies by noting that ". . .the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbors of the nations in this region.. .We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt." One of his senior advisors has even noted that Iran has plans for the"destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization."

1 know many commentators would like to dismiss this talk as hyperbole, political theater for the masses. It is hard for those of us brought up in liberal societies to understand how anyone could be ideologically committed to the destruction of another society; we blanch at the very thought; it just goes against our nature to believe it. History shows us that such naivete can be a tragic mistake. We learned this again on 911 1 when Osama bin-Laden showed us that he meant what he said as far back as 1996 when he issued his fatwa, a "declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places."

That is exactly why we have worked closely with our NATO Allies to ensure that missile defense forms a part of a broader NATO response to counter .these new threats. We must devalue missiles as tools of extortion and aggression and undermine the confidence of our adversaries that threatening a missile attack would succeed in blackmailing us. NATO cannot ignore .the possibility that its core principles might be challenged through the use of ballistic missiles and WMD.

Achieving a successfbl deterrent to missiles relies on technological investment and advances. There are many critics who seek to belittle the feasibility of a robust missile defense. For example, one long-time critic of missile defense, has said that ". . .you would need to hit a bullet with a bullet, as they say. It's like doing a hole in one when the hole is going 15,000 miles an hour." Well, if that is the case, then the Missile Defense Agency must have hired Tiger Woods, because 34 of 42 terminal and midcourse hit-to-kill intercepts in the atmosphere and space since 2001 have succeeded. That is not too bad. As Dr. Charles McQueary, the Director, Operation Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense said on April 1,2008, "[hit-to-kill is no longer a technological uncertainty; it is a reality, being successfully demonstrated many times over the past few years."

As with any new capability, missile defense is evolving. The early airplane was scoffed at as a military tool. But over time technology and theory evolved to the point where it became a dominant weapon. The early efforts of the United States to develop rockets to compete with the Soviet Union met with repeated failure. We can look back now and smile at videos of missiles exploding shortly after launch, but in the early 1960s it was no laughing matter.

We have the capability to defeat the existing threat and are working on technologies to defeat future threats of greater sophistication. Don't let the critics fool you -- the fact that we cannot yet defeat a potential future threat that contains sophisticated countermeasures does not mean that we should forgo our ability to deter and if necessary defeat the existing threat.

At Bucharest, NATO recognized the "substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European-based U.S. missile defense assets." On the same day as NATO's historic decision, the United States and Czech Republic announced their intent to sign a missile defense basing agreement. This agreement is an important step in our efforts to protect our Nation, as well as our NATO Allies, from the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. This agreement calls for the stationing of a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic to track attacking ballistic missiles. The radar will be linked to other U.S. missile defense facilities in Europe and the United States.

In addition to deepening our bilateral strategic relationship, we strongly believe that our cooperation in this area will make a substantial contribution to NATO's collective capability to counter existing and future threats in the 21st Century, and will be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defense architecture.

With regard to Poland, I remain optimistic about our negotiations. President Bush and Polish Prime Minister Tusk, as well as Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Sikorski, have agreed on a path forward to finalizing our negotiations. Completing these negotiations as soon as possible is the goal of Washington and Warsaw.

Polish and Czech interest in hosting these installations clearly demonstrates their understanding of the emergent .threat to the U.S., NATO, and our other European friends. We and our Polish and Czech colleagues are committed to enhancing the collective security of the NATO Alliance and strengthening trans-Atlantic security. Through our efforts, we are working to ensure the full coverage of the Alliance to avoid the danger associated with the decoupling of European and American security interests. If Europe is not secure, the United States is not secure.

In the April 6 US.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration, issued at Sochi, the United States and Russia agreed to pursue missile defense cooperation as well as transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs) related to our missile defense assets in Poland and the Czech Republic. We are working together to identify areas of cooperation -- including in the field of missile defense -- as part of a larger strategic framework and which is consistent with Russia's own security interests. The Russian Government has clearly stated concerns regarding the potential fielding of U.S. missile defense capabilities in Europe. And the United States equally has been clear that the U.S. missile defense capabilities proposed for Europe are not directed at Russia. We continue to engage Moscow at the highest levels in an extensive and far-reaching dialogue. The information we have exchanged and the proposals we have offered have been unprecedented. Let me provide some brief background on our proposals for joint cooperation and transparency efforts with Russia to date.

The United States has been offering Russia transparency and confidencebuilding measures since at least mid-2007. These measures, individually and in their totality, would provide Russia assurances that our limited defensive capabilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are not directed at Russia and would not undermine its security. In the April U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration, Russia, nevertheless expressed appreciation for the U.S.-proposed transparency and confidence-building measures and ". . . declared if agreed and implemented such measures will be important and useful in assuaging Russian concerns."

The possibility of Russian liaison officers accredited to their Embassy in each Host Nation working at the U.S. sites and monitoring the facilities has been discussed as one of a number of transparency and confidence building measures designed to assuage Russian concerns. Additionally, the U.S. has offered Russia the possibility of technical monitoring of the facilities as well as other TCBMs and specific assurances that the limited defensive capabilities deployed in central Europe would not be directed against Russia. Any proposal concerning Russian personnel monitoring the European-based missile defense sites would be contingent upon Host Nation approval, as well as upon reciprocity at facilities in Russia for U.S., Czech, and Polish personnel.

In the Strategic Framework Declaration released at the April 6 Sochi meeting, both the United States and Russia expressed "their interest in creating a system for responding to potential missile threats in which Russia and the United States and Europe will participate as equal partners." That is fully consistent with the approach the U.S. has been pursuing over the last few years.

For example, in April 2007, the U.S. State and Defense Departments gave to Russian counterparts a comprehensive proposal for bilateral cooperation across the full spectrum of missile defense activities. It offered the prospect of a strategic partnership in the field of missile defense, including joint cooperation on the research and development of sensors andlor boosters, modeling and simulation, cooperation on targets and joint testing, and the sharing of early warning data. That proposal remains on the table.

In addition to the April 2007 proposal, the United States has put forward proposals for cooperation that envision a joint regional missile defense architecture with the United States, Europe, and Russia participating as equal partners. In so doing, our objective would be to defend not only -the United States and Europe, but also Russia. Elements of this integrated system would be supplied by the United States and Russia, as well as our NATO Allies.

We plan to continue our dialogue with Russia on our proposals for missile defense cooperation. We also will continue to discuss our TCBMs as one means of assuring Russia that our assets in Poland and the Czech Republic are not threat to Russian security.

Conclusion

Missile defense is part of contemporary deterrence and promotes stability. Not only does it increase our options in responding to a potential ballistic missile attack, it decreases incentives for missile proliferation in the first place, by undermining the military utility and attractiveness of these weapons. Missile defense denies an aggressor the ability to coerce or intimidate the United States, allies and friends into either accepting, or ignoring, acts of aggression.

Our missile defense program -- and our cooperative activities with NATO -- demonstrates that we are not failing to respond to existing and future challenges to international peace and security, and instead are ensuring that our options to respond to aggression will not be constrained.

As President Bush said on February 27 following his meeting with Czech Prime Minister Topolanek: ". . . [Olur job as leaders is to deal with the issues of the day, but also deal with the issues of tomorrow in a way that yields a peaceful world. And that's what we're doing."

Thank you. [I'll be happy to take some questions.]



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