14 March 2007

Wednesday Roll-up of Missile/Nuclear Issues

Quite a bit has occurred in the intervening week+ since the last roll-up so let’s jump right in, beginning with the latest on the European leg of the BMDS:

GREEK PAPER DISCUSSES PROPOSED EUROPE MISSILE DEFENSE UMBRELLA AGAINST IRAN, Ta Nea (Greece), BBC Monitoring International Reports, March 14, 2007. NATO wants to install in Greece missile systems, similar to those the United States will install in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow appears to be enraged. … NATO, yesterday [12 Mar] indicated that Greece, Turkey and, Italy are the next countries that must install the missile systems for protection against Iran. According to NATO officials (article in Financial Times), it is an additional system that supplements the one the United States is about to install in Poland and the Czech Republic. … NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in an interview to Financial Times, said that Europe must create its own missile system and noted that the US missile system -on which many member states of the European Union have reacted - will cover only part of Europe. … the NATO Secretary General suggested that the [other countries] could use NATO's missile defense system to cover the gap. According to this scenario, Greece, Turkey, and Italy will be protected by the additional system that is included in the Patriot systems as well as the Aegis system (radar, et cetera), which are connected to the NATO system. … Greece, which participated in both the initial as well as the main discussions, has not excluded the possibility of participating in the NATO missile protection program for Europe. Furthermore, according to diplomatic sources, concerning the system that is promoted by the United States, "there has been no approach yet". As for the NATO system, according to military sources, the government is now considering the pros and the cons and whether such a missile defense network system will indeed fortify Greece's missile umbrella against the constant Turkish threat. (ed: my emphasis added)…

And of course, from across the Aegean is Turkey’s cut:

TURKEY'S POSITION ON US MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM, Turkish Daily News, March 14, 2007. Turkey does not share the NATO secretary-general's concerns that the NATO alliance risks being split between those countries that would be covered by the U.S. proposed missile defense program and those that would be left exposed to
missile threats from rogue states. … "We don't believe there will be such a split," a Turkish official told the Turkish Daily News when asked to comment on Scheffer's statement. … The Turkish government does not seem to share these concerns [about the US missile plan]. "This is not a NATO project. The United States seeks protection from missile attacks supposedly from states like Iran or North Korea, and they are taking unilateral steps to protect themselves," said a Turkish diplomat familiar with the issue. "As for the issue of being left out of the protection shield, Americans told us that the program is not equipped technically to provide protection for Turkey. That is, apparently, by the time a missile is launched from let's say Iran, the defense program would not be fast enough to counter it before it reaches Turkish soil," said the same diplomat. … The Turkish government is so far not keen on the idea of incorporating the U.S. missile defense program within NATO. Turkey is worried about proliferation of nuclear weapons and does not underestimate the threat posed by the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which claims it will only use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Foreign Ministry sources told the TDN. Talks are underway for the acquisition of shorter-range systems. (ed: e.g., terminal-phase like PATRIOT and THAAD)

Speaking of PATRIOT:
Yonhap (South Korea), March 14, 2007. A senior German defense official arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for talks on the sale of second-hand Patriot missiles to South Korea. Klaus Von Sperber, who oversees defense cooperation issues at Germany's defense ministry, will meet with South Korean defense officials during his three-day trip, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). … High on the agenda in his talks Wednesday with Lee Chung-won, director-general for DAPA's defense industry promotion bureau, will be Seoul's pursuit of acquiring Patriot missiles from Germany. South Korea hopes to replace its aging ground-to-air Nike missiles, introduced 40 years ago, with 48 Patriot missiles starting next year. … Seoul's move to update its missile defense system has gained more urgency since North Korea test launched a salvo of seven missiles last year, including one long-range missile. (ed: …and we are approaching that time of year again…)

Over in Ukraine, there is favorable comment re. a European leg of the BMDS with it possibly serving as the start for a wider pan-European defense effort that might include Russia:
UKRAINE WELCOMES U.S. MISSILE SHIELD IN EUROPE, Interfax, Mar 13 2007. A planned U.S. missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic will shield the whole of Europe and help create a multipolar world, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko argued in a television program on Tuesday. "It will be in the interests of peaceful coexistence if each state is protected, if we possess means of defense," … Yushchenko told Russian channel Vesti 24.

UKRAINE OFFERS IT SCIENTIFIC POTENTIAL FOR BMD SYSTEM, TASS, March 14, 2007. Ukraine offers its scientific and technological potential to the United States and Russia, so that it could be used for the creation of some elements of the ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, a source from the military-industrial complex told Itar-Tass, commenting on the talks with Lieutenant General Henry Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, started in Kiev. … The Ukrainian expert stressed that possible work for the BMD system, to be done for the United States or Russia, was not connected in any way with Ukraine's stand on the deployment of U.S. BMD capabilities in Europe. … He believes Russia's stand on the problem of the U.S. BMD system would not be so tough, if it were part of the creation of an all-European BMD system. “It is impossible to create a European BMD system without the participation of Russia and Ukraine, especially in view of the fact that there are facilities on the Ukrainian territory already, which could be included in the system,'' he stressed (ed: presumably these ‘facilities’ would include the Hen house radars at places like Sevastopol which are part of Russia’s early warning system)
In something of a twist on the norm (it seems) are demonstrations in support of the projected European deployment:
, CTK National News Wire, March 12, 2007. Some 300 supporters of the stationing of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic staged a demonstration in Prague today to express support to the U.S. policy in Europe. participants in the demonstration organized by the Pro civic group were carrying umbrellas and tennis and badminton racquets as a symbol of the U.S. anti-missile shield it plans to build in Europe. Martin Kotas, the owner of a cafe and one of the organizers of the event, said … "The goal of today's event is to express the position of the part of Czech society which thinks that the talks on the stationing of a radar base are important." …

Of course, Russia continues it’s meme of the evil that is the European leg of BMDS in announcing an upgrade to the current S-400 SAM system:
RUSSIA TO DEVELOP NEW AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM, Reuters, March 14, 2007. Russia's air force chief said on Tuesday Moscow was working on a new generation air defense system after the United States announced plans to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov said the new technology would go further than the existing S-400 (Triumph) anti-aircraft missile system, which has a range of 400 km (250 miles). … "This is not an offensive but rather a defensive weapon," he said. Mikhailov also returned to the attack on the U.S. missile defense plan, already sharply criticized in Moscow. "I think everyone will understand that this should not be done," he said in remarks seen as aimed at Poland and the Czech Republic. …

Interestingly enough though, is this piece re. Russia’s growing impatience with Iran:
RUSSIA LOSING PATIENCE WITH IRAN OVER ITS NUCLEAR STANCE, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2007. Russia signaled sharp dissatisfaction Monday with Iran's defiant stance on nuclear issues, saying the start-up of a Russian-built nuclear reactor will be delayed and warning that Moscow will not join Tehran "in anti-American games." … an official described as "an insider" told the three main Russian news agencies that Tehran had abused its ties with Moscow on the nuclear issue. Iran's defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, has caused Russia to suffer "losses in relation to its foreign policy and image, but they insist on their line," the Itar-Tass agency quoted the unnamed official as saying. … Andrei Kortunov, president of the New Eurasia Foundation, a Moscow think tank, said the statement clearly was "an organized leak" designed to be "an unofficial official reprimand" to Iran. … Kortunov said Moscow's tougher attitude toward Iran was
also prompted by a desire to avoid further damage to Russian-U.S. relations, which have deteriorated in the last few years. …

On the subject of diplomacy, there is an interesting article over at Democracy Journal (h/t ArmsControlWonk) regarding the long view of counter-proliferation and the importance of using diplomacy (unfortunately a subscription is required to read the full article). While there is a fair amount of Bush Administration bashing, there is a valid point re. the use of all tools to include diplomacy, in succeeding at turning back a state’s decision to pursue acquisition of nuclear or other WMDs. Two states have visibly stepped back from their previous decisions – Libya and South Africa. Diplomacy played a key part in both, although one also has to be quick to remember that the point may have been driven home in the case of the former a bit more clearly via a few (Ok, several) 2,000 lb LGB’s via Eldorado Canyon a decade previous (and yes, YHS knows that was in response to the Berlin disco bombing and other sordid state-sponsored terrorist acts, but if it happened once…). Of course, just as the over-reliance of use of force can ultimately be counter-productive, so too can the over-reliance on diplomacy w/o or with little regard for the qualitative factors it brings to the table. Many who are quick to slam the current Administration conveniently overlook this aspect while bestowing bouquets to the previous one. The record there clearly shows shortcomings with the Clinton Administration as well…