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U.S., NATO Countries Agree on Need To Maintain Defense Linkage

20 April 2007

Russia said to be studying U.S. proposal for missile defense cooperation

Washington -- U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, citing successful coupling of NATO and U.S. defense programs during the Cold War, said April 19 that such partnerships remain a good idea today “even though we’re now in a post-Cold War era, facing new challenges and new threats.”

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concurred, saying “the principle of the indivisibility of security” is a view held unanimously by the 26 NATO members.

Edelman, who is under secretary for policy, Assistant Secretary of State John Rood and Missile Defense Agency Director Lieutenant General Henry Obering traveled to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to address the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Russia Council about plans to negotiate the deployment of 10 ground-based interceptor missiles to Poland and a radar system to the Czech Republic as a way to broaden the effectiveness of the anti-missile shield.

The officials addressed reporters in Brussels following the briefings.

Obering said the United States hopes to have the Central European-based interceptor and radar sites in place by 2013 to protect against a looming threat from Iranian ballistic missiles.  The Polish and Czech sites would be supported by around 350 U.S. military, civilian and contract personnel. (See related article.)

The Missile Defense Agency director said the United States already has invested around $100 billion in a layered-missile defense system with interceptors located in California and Alaska to protect against long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles emanating from East Asia.

Obering said preventing an attack against even one European or American city would more than justify “the system investment that we have made.”  As a comparison, he said the terrorist attack against New York in 2001 caused physical damage to the city totaling $83 billion.

Obering said the U.S. missile defense proposal for Central Europe obviates the need for NATO to duplicate the capability the United States is offering.

De Hoop Scheffer told reporters in Brussels that there is a shared view that any U.S. missile defense elements deployed in North America or Central Europe “should be complementary to any NATO missile defense system.”

Edelman said what the United States envisions deploying in Europe is being designed carefully to “be both complementary and interoperable ultimately with that NATO system.”  NATO has been working to develop a defense against ballistic missiles in the 3,000 kilometer range.

Discussions with NATO members about missile defense will continue at the upcoming informal NATO foreign ministers meeting scheduled for April 26-27 in Oslo, Norway.

RUSSIAN RESPONSE TO U.S. PROPOSAL WILL TAKE TIME

The United States has sought to allay Russian concerns about limited missile defense deployments in Europe through consultations and offers of broader cooperation.  Cooperative measures could include the exploration of new technologies, shared early warning data, research and development opportunities, or even possible co-production of components or systems.

“The basic U.S. position is that we are prepared to explore cooperation with Russia across the full spectrum of missile defense activities,” Rood said, including potential partnerships.

Beyond U.S.-Russian bilateral cooperation on missile defense, Rood said there also is room for NATO as a whole to work with Russia on tailored missile defense projects.

Following his meetings with Russian representatives in the NATO-Russia Council on April 19, and during an earlier April 17 trip to Moscow, Rood said “Moscow characterized our proposal as a very serious one ... that went far beyond previous proposals for cooperation.”

In both cases, Rood said feedback from Russian representatives suggested that Moscow would examine the U.S. proposal carefully before providing its full response.

U.S. officials are willing to afford Russia time to study the proposal in depth, Rood said, “and to await their considered response.”

Although Russia certainly is capable of defending itself, Edelman said Washington believes that the United States and Russia share a “common interest in defending our respective populations against a missile attack.”

Edelman said there would be considerable opportunities in the coming weeks to continue engaging in discussions “at a high level with the leadership of the Russian Federation.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will travel to Moscow for further consultations on April 23 after a stop in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss missile defense negotiations that are expected to continue into the fall.

Links to audio and video of the press briefings are available on the NATO Web site.

For more information, see State Department fact sheets on the proposed basing of missile defense assets in Europe, technical aspects of the proposed deployment, and ongoing cooperation with NATO and Russia.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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