Thursday, April 19, 2007

ABM Update : Patriot Missiles Again? [Updated April 20th]

The Financial Times reports that the US has recently taken another step forward in progressing its ABM technologies in Europe by opening up an official dialog with NATO members as well as Russia's representatives in Europe:

Thursday, Konstantin Totskiy, Moscow’s ambassador to Nato, underlined Russia’s concerns, but also welcomed the meeting as the start of a long-awaited “dialogue”.

The US delegation argued that the proposed sites in Poland and the Czech Republic would allow the system to cover all but a handful of Nato allies.

The system, which is principally designed to protect the continental US, already uses bases in California and Alaska. According to maps circulating among Nato officials, only Turkey and parts of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania would be outside the system’s protection once additional interceptor missiles were installed in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato secretary-general, is enthusiastic about winning Nato support for a complementary “bolt-on” system that would use Patriot missiles and Aegis radar to protect Turkey and other parts of south-east Europe from shorter-range missiles from Iran. <...>

In Moscow, however, Sergei Ivanov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, said he saw “no grounds” for co-operation with the US on a joint missile defence system.

Once again, I would like to reiterate that I am not a specialist on radar missile defense but it seems strange that Bulgaria and Romania, countries closest to Poland would not be under the protection of the new system.

Second, I do not understand why the United States is not engaged in a dialog with Turkey about deployment of its ABM system there. Geographically, this region still allows to track incoming missiles from Iran, it is also much closer to Iran, and potentially other troublesome countries. Also, Turkey, in the past, has hosted a large variety of US weapons systems.

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