ATLANTIC TREATY ASSOCIATION
Volume 3 - Issue 5 May 2013
Missile Proliferation and Defense: NATOâ€™s Challenge and Response With the growing threat of a nuclear Iran and North Korea, Europe and the United States are becoming increasingly weary of their own vulnerabilities in missile defense and the ever growing danger of rogue states seeking to undermine transatlantic security. Despite tremendous progress towards collective defense, a full European missile shield has been under tremendous pressure from budgetary constraints and political disputes amongst NATO members. As the Alliance prepares for the emerging
SM-3 Anti-missiles on Aegis cruiser (Photo: MDA)
threat environment of the 21st century, NATO members continue to disagree over
A Flexible NATO Missile Shield
the best means of securing themselves
Ben-Zion Jaffe explores the potential for a NATO missile shield while discussing threats of
from a growing Iranian missile threat and the eclipsing concern of future relations with Russia.
ballistic missiles and the opportunities provided by anti-missile technology. He explains the necessity for flexibility in any NATO missile shield strategy in order to cope with emerging threats to Europe and the Alliance.
As policy prospects continue to fall under greater strain, missile defense be-
Missile Defense in Europe: Never-Ending, Ever-Changing
comes a more pressing concern as fiscal
and political constraints continue to grow.
VĂĄclav Trejbal discusses the evolution of the concept of missile defense and its implications
By: Jason Wiseman
across Europe. He illustrates the growing threats of Iran and North Korea and the obstacles posed by Russia and budget cuts toward the implementation of comprehensive missile defense installations.
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
A Flexible NATO Missile Shield By Ben-Zion Jaffe ontaining regional conflicts and blunting their
expansion into other areas has always been a difficult challenge for independent states and interna-
tional organizations. Today, there are several existing and
potential regional conflicts that threaten to draw in states that are currently not at war. The political phenomenon of the Arab Spring is a remarkable example of how quickly and broadly isolated conflicts can spread to neighboring countries. In addition, tense situations such as
missile defense systems amongst its members and creating a credible deterrent to states and NSAs that would consider using such weapons against them. NATO should focus on a policy that enables a robust missile defense program for its members and strategic partners, as several threats loom on the horizon for the Alliance. Turkeyâ€™s Patriots The most recent example of NATO members bolstering each otherâ€™s missile defense is the deployment of PAC -3 (Patriot) batteries to Turkey
the Iranian nuclear crisis and North
in January 2013. This was done
Korean saber-rattling continue else-
in response to a Turkish request
where, threatening NATO member
of assistance from NATO after
states and strategic partners should
Syrian Scuds landed close to the
these situations escalate into actual
Turkish border. The United
States, the Netherlands, and
The ability for conflicts to
Germany deployed batteries
spread beyond their initial borders is
and hundreds of troops to oper-
partly facilitated by the modern tools
The NATO Missile Defense exhibit at the Chicago Summit in
of mass media. News, information
2012. (Photo: Associated Press)
and political discourse can span the globe in just moments on the Internet as social media has given voice to individuals previously rendered mute by their oppressive regimes. However, just as modern advances have given new recourse for the oppressed, modern weaponry also has allowed states and armed militant groups to spread violence further than they were previously capable. Both states and non-state actors (NSA) have been able to threaten and attack their targets beyond their zones of operation without putting boots on the ground by utilizing missiles and rockets. These technologies range from the extremely sophisticated to the very crude, where some can only be implemented by states, while others can be harnessed by almost anyone, thus creating the need for states to properly prepare and defend themselves against these threats that emanate from beyond their borders. NATO is uniquely positioned to create spheres of stability and protection against missile threats by sharing anti-
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
ate them in two areas bordering Syria under NATO command.
Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the most vocal supporter of the Syrian rebellion to overthrow President Assad. In addition to offering public support for the rebels, Turkey has allowed them to operate in its territory. However, the fear from Turkey and its allies is that the Syrian civil war will spill over into its territory. In addition to the stray mortar shells and bullets that may land in Turkish territory, there is a credible fear that President Assad will try to draw Turkey into the war by launching missiles directly against its Western neighbor. The Syrian armed forces possess an array of ballistic missiles, including Scud B and Scud C variants with ranges between 300 and 500 kilometers, respectively. There is also the constant fear that these missiles could carry a chemical warhead. These missiles threaten to make the localized Syrian conflict into a broader regional conflagration by drawing in
Turkey and its allies into a confrontation with Syria and its allies,
ballistic missiles that may threaten European population centers and territory, or Territorial Missile Defense.
which include Iran and Russia. Therefore, it was in NATO’s interest to deploy the PAC-3 system to Turkey. This system serves two very important roles. Most obviously, it is meant to intercept missiles that Syria may fire at Turkey. Limiting civilian deaths is one important way to ensure that certain violent situations do not become larger conflicts. Not only would these missiles, in theory, save lives, but they would also save Turkey from the internal pressure of re-
The process of creating a robust European BMD plan started at NATO’s 2002 Prague Summit where the participants agreed to examine the possibility of a BMD system to protect Allied forces, territory and populations. The two following summits – Riga in 2006, where participants approved the results of the Prague Summit; and Bucharest 2008, where NATO members decided to allow American BMD systems in Europe – pushed these plans closer to fruition. However, Russia react-
sponding in full force against Syria.
ed angrily when the US signed a missile
But the other role that the PAC-3 plays, which they have performed remarkably well since their deployment, is simply to deter Syria from launching missiles
NATO is uniquely positioned to create spheres of stability and protection against missile threats...
against Turkey. It could be argued that President Assad would never intend to launch missiles against Turkey whether the PAC-3s were deployed or not, but it is clear that they have acted as a successful deterrent. The rapid deployment of this missile defense system in Turkey is a prime example of how NATO allies can aid each other in bolstering the security of member states while also containing regional political and military confrontations. Had Syria successfully launched Scuds against Turkey, the Syrian civil war could easily be overshadowed by a greater Middle East war that would be significantly more costly and bloody. Europe’s Defense In addition to containing localized threats, joint planning of a NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) system helps foster regional cooperation and creates a unified front against military and political foes challenging NATO’s security. In addition to Turkey’s request for NATO assistance, another strong example of BMD cooperation among NATO members is the longer-term European ballistic missile shield. This plan, which took its first steps in 2002, was both the cause of regional political clashes and an example of how the collaborative efforts of NATO members could create strong deterrent measures against NATO’s foes. Initially, NATO BMD plans were aimed against threats that NATO troops may face when deployed in the field, known as Theater Missile Defense. The Theater Missile Defense plan, which was focused against the tactical missiles threatening NATO forces, eventually expanded in 2002 to include a broader defense against
defense agreement with Poland in the summer of 2008. While the US claimed the planned missile shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic was being created only to counter threats posed by Iran, the Rus-
sian envoy to NATO responded that the timing of the agreement, which was at the end of the Russian-Georgian War, indicated that “the missile defense system will be deployed not against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia.” The US had strongly considered plans to place longrange missile interceptors in Poland for the past decade. However, there was hardly a unified front within NATO over the proposal. Polish officials faced tremendous internal opposition from their constituents, while other NATO leaders also argued against the plan, such as then French President Nicolas Sarkozy. When US President Barack Obama terminated the plan in September 2009, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom all reacted positively to the announcement, which was seen as a move to assist in the warming of USRussian and European-Russian relations. Instead of a BMD shield based in Poland, the September 2009 announcement by President Obama included the outline of the new European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). The EPAA is a plan that gradually builds Europe’s missile shield. Seeking to ease the concerns of its Polish and Czech allies, the US dispatched Vice President Joseph Biden, along with several military commanders, to Poland in October 2009, where he reaffirmed the US’s commitment to Poland’s security. Vice President Biden outlined the plan, which called for the smaller Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) to be placed on US warships in the region and on Polish soil in 2018, pending Polish parliamentary approval. This plan, according to US
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
officials, was a more appropriate response to the Iranian
reached its interim capability. This meant that basic command
missile threat and would also be more tolerable in Mos-
and control capabilities had been installed at NATO Allied
Air Command Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany, while EPAA is designed to counter short and intermedi-
ate-range Iranian ballistic missiles. The EPAA allows for flexibility by implementing mobile radars and interceptors mounted on Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers.
US ships in the Mediterranean equipped with the Aegissystem had been put under NATO command. There are several benefits from NATO’s current position in terms of ballistic missile defense. One of the key
In a further effort to work with Russia, NATO
points of tension with Russia for the past several years was the
sought to create a functioning mutual BMD system at the
placement of an intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor,
2010 Lisbon Summit. During the summit, the NATO-
known as the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), in Poland.
Russia Council agreed to discuss pursuing BMD coopera-
The EKV represented a system that was designed to defend
tion and agreed on a joint ballistic missile threat assess-
against long-range missile threats, while Russia felt that its
ment. This new cooperation culminated in April 2012
single purpose was to reduce Russia’s nuclear deterrence.
when NATO and Russia successfully conducted a comput-
However, the refocused EPAA plans to utilize the SM-3,
er-assisted missile defense exercise.
which is not an intercontinental missile interceptor, but ra-
By 2011, more NATO members had signed on to
ther is designed to intercept short- to intermediate-range
elements of EPAA. In the autumn of 2011, Turkey agreed
missiles. This switch of interceptor missiles both symbolically
to host a BMD-supporting radar in Kureak, Turkey while
and practically refocused NATO’s BMD capabilities away
Romania agreed with the US to house the SM-3s in 2015.
from Russia and towards Iran. This reopened a crucial politi-
Moreover, The Netherlands contributed to the EPAA by
cal dialogue between the US and NATO with Russia. Re-
announcing plans to upgrade four frigates with long-range
engaging Russia politically is vital at a time when many West-
missile defense early-warning radars as its national contri-
ern and Middle Eastern states are increasingly concerned
bution to NATO’s BMD. At the same time of the Dutch
about Iranian missile and nuclear progress. In 2009 Russia
announcement, the US
signed a deal with Iran to
and Spain entered into
supply it with the S-300
an agreement to station
air defense missile system,
believed to be one of the
ships in Rota, Spain.
most sophisticated air de-
A major break-
through for NATO’s
world. However, by 2010
BMD plan was an-
the deal had been post-
nounced at the Chicago Summit
Iranian Shehab-2 missile on parade (Photo: Reuters)
poned by Russia. This
postponement is in great part due to diplomatic efforts against
NATO allies stated in article 60 in their official Declara-
Iran as well as direct negotiations with Russia. In fact, the
tion “We are pleased today to declare that the Alliance has
timing of the Russian cancellation falls near the announced
achieved an Interim NATO BMD Capability. It will pro-
EPAA, which replaced the EKV with the SM-3. It is fascinat-
vide with immediate effect an operationally significant
ing to think that NATO BMD plans may have actually had a
first step, consistent with our Lisbon decision, offering the
positive impact on NATO-Russian relations and helped
maximum coverage within available means, to defend our
populations, territory and forces across southern NATO
The integration of the missile defense systems of sev-
Europe against a ballistic missile attack.” This announce-
eral nations is both a technological and political feat. The
ment confirmed that the agreement reached at Lisbon in
integration of BMD systems includes NATO members and
2010 to create a functioning BMD system for Europe had
other partners throughout the globe that are linked into
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
US-missile defense systems. Most notably, Israel and Japan
attacks against Israel and Jordan. Egypt serves as an example
have been the biggest recipients of US aid and cooperation.
of what well-intended governmental change can bring. Failed
The collaboration and goals outlined within EPAA signal a
states, or even failed regions, can bring widespread instability
unified military and political front to the globe that a multi-
and violence to regional neighbors, as is seen on the Sinai-
national continental missile defense system is not only theo-
Israel border and the Syrian-Turkish border.
retical, but achievable. When dealing with belligerent neighbors, whether they be Iran or North Korea, this form of alliance helps con-
Whereas the Egyptian Sinai
The collaboration and goals outlined within EPAA signal a unified military and political front
tain possible conflict. We have
may be an example of the potential complications of the Arab Spring for neighboring states, Israel is an example of what NATO’s Europe-
already witnessed the localized success of regional coopera-
an members should emulate regarding rocket and missile
tion with the deployment of PAC-3 missiles in Turkey, and
defensive capabilities. Israel has had the unenviable position of
may owe credit for future peace to a continent-wide missile
having to protect its armed forces and populace from rockets
defense system in Europe, along with NATO cooperation
(from Gaza, Sinai and Hezbollah in Lebanon), short and me-
with other partners such as Russia, Israel and Japan. It is im-
dium range missiles (from Syria and Iran), and long range
portant to take a closer look at these future threats and ana-
missiles (Iran). Despite the myriad of rockets and missiles
lyze what a comprehensive ballistic missile defense program
facing Israel, it has developed systems to defend against all of
these threats (except for the crude Qassam rockets launched
Future Threats: The Middle East Post-Arab Spring
from terror groups in Gaza).
NATO’s missile defense plans have evolved with the
Iran’s Current and Future Threats
changing geopolitical landscape. Despite past successes in
Iran currently has several missiles of varying ranges, and is
meeting the changing missile defense needs of NATO, such as
pushing towards technologies that will increase the country’s
responding to the Iranian threat instead of Russia, or aiding
missile program's reach deeper into Europe and possibly
Turkey with a rapid deployment of PAC-3s, the Alliance
across continents. The operational missiles in Iran’s arsenal
needs to maintain a watchful eye on potential future threats.
are the Shehab-3 and Shehab-3 Extended Range missiles, with
Keeping a focused eye on the horizon may be more
a range of 1,300 and 2,000 km, respectively. The Shehab-3
difficult now that it has ever been in recent memory. In addi-
can send a one-ton warhead to parts of southern Europe. Al-
tion to budgetary pressures facing NATO members’ armed
so, after years of speculation amongst the missile community,
forces, the geopolitical environment is extremely murky. The
it was eventually confirmed that Iran also obtained nineteen
Arab Spring has given hope to millions across the Middle
BM-25 missiles from North Korea. The BM-25 is a modified
East, but it has also been a cause for concern. Although the
Russian missile with a range of almost 4,000 km, putting
civil war in Syria may result in a peaceful situation with a state
European capitals as far as Berlin (and Moscow) within range.
that would, unlike President Assad’s regime, be a partner
This missile is also powerful enough to carry a nuclear war-
with the West the path to that point has been anything but
head, although Iran is not known to possess the ability to
smooth for Turkey and other NATO members and partners.
make a small enough nuclear warhead to fit atop a missile.
Looking beyond Syria, the picture becomes no clear-
The inclusion of the BM-25 in Iran’s arsenal is worri-
er. Egypt is currently in the hands of what has so far been a
some, however the real issue with the Iranian possession of
responsible government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
such a missile is its ability to use the technology found within
Despite the Brotherhood’s political achievements and ability
its more powerful boosters to advance its missile program.
to calm rattled Western nerves, the fall of President Hosni
Iran has already displayed the ability to successfully launch
Mubarak has opened the gates of the Sinai Peninsula to armed
more powerful rockets, including the deployment of a small
groups that have launched repeated rocket (and terrorist) Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
satellite in 2009. The satellite was based off of the Safir rock-
deploy its BMD system after sustaining 39 Scud missile at-
et, which represents a more sophisticated class of rocket than
tacks in the Gulf War. For Europe, the final stage of the
Iran had displayed in the past. Its engines are based off of Rus-
EPAA is not planned to be completed until 2021. NATO will
sian technology and provide about 40% more lifting force
need to constantly reevaluate its ABM plans in order to stay
than Iran’s kerosene-fired engines found in its other missiles.
ahead of the various threats it may face.
But the most significant news about Iran’s ability to orbit a
satellite is the marriage between satellite technology and inter
Although half a world away, the tensions on the Kore-
-continental ballistic missile programs. Russian and US ICBMs
an peninsula are of great importance to NATO’s North
have their origins in
American and European mem-
space rocket technolo-
bers, as well as its “partners
gy. Iran was even able
across the globe,” such as Ja-
to launch its space
pan and South Korea.
rocket by using the
North Korea has been a
Shahab missile launch-
major catalyst of missile tech-
ers as the launch plat-
nology proliferation to several
form. By piecing the
states. Iran has been a major
various components of
recipient of this illegal trade.
Iran’s space and missile program together, Iran
Iran’s Shehab-3 is very closely German soldiers walk past a PAC-3 launcher in December 2012. (Photo: Reuters )
designed from North Korea’s No Dong 1 missile. In addition,
may not be far off from possessing an ICBM. Some predict Iran will have ICMB capa-
Iran obtained the BM-25 missiles from North Korea, as noted
bilities by 2015.
above. The relationship has been strong and represents a rare
In addition, it has also been reported that Iran ob-
trade corridor for these isolated states. North Korea has in-
tained several KH-55 cruise missiles from Ukraine. These
termittently tested its missiles, including the intermediate
missiles act like low flying airplanes and do not take a ballistic
range Taepo Dong 1 and 2 missiles, and launched a satellite
trajectory, thus requiring a different mechanism of intercep-
into space in December 2012.
tion than those that are used to counter ballistic missiles.
The US Navy was able to recover part of the rocket
These cruise missiles can be launched from a large aircraft or
that launched the satellite, giving intelligence analysts useful
ship, both of which require difficult, yet obtainable engineer-
insight into the North Korean missile program that they have
ing adaptations. A cruise missile outfitted on a ship or air-
not had before. The Defense Intelligence Agency released a
plane could be launched from beyond the confines of Iran,
classified assessment in March 2013 that it believes with
threatening Europe and even the US. The nuclear-capable KH
“moderate confidence” that the “North currently has nuclear
-55 has a range of 3,000 km and is an example of why NATO
weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles however the
needs to maintain a flexible and fluid approach to missile de-
reliability will be low.” These tests, along with a North Kore-
fense. Iran will continue to develop its missile program, ex-
an test launch of three short-range missiles in mid-May 2013,
panding on existing missile platforms such as the BM-25, Safir
have raised the concerns of Japan, South Korea, and the US.
rocket and KH-55 cruise missile. And as noted above, the
President Obama recently announced that the US would
Middle East is a difficult place to make political predictions. A
place Ground Based Interceptors in Alaska and California in
strong, stable autocrat can give way to a less friendly govern-
order to counter the growing North Korean threat. Japan also
ment with little warning. While national ballistic programs
responded to North Korea’s saber-rattling by deploying PAC-
take some time to develop, so do missile defense systems.
3 missiles in Okinawa and Tokyo, signing a $400 million deal
Using Israel as example, it took that country over ten years to
with Lockheed Martin to upgrade its existing Aegis system,
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
About the author
and deploying Japanese and US warships equipped with the Aegis system in the Sea of Japan and Korean peninsula, respectively.
Ben-Zion Jaffe holds a MA in Government with a SpecializaThe cooperation between the US and Japan and the US
tion in Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security Studies and
and South Korea is an example of rapid ABM mutual assis-
graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in History and Political
tance, which is facilitated by the more abundant ABM systems
Science. His areas of expertise include ballistic missile prolifera-
in existence today. The developments in Asia, along with Tur-
tion, missile and rocket defense systems, terrorism and ethnona-
key’s acceptance of PAC-3s from its NATO allies, are two
examples of NATO members and partners creating deterrence
against regional missile threats. This form of mutual assistance, coupled with cooperation with Russia, must continue as the threats against NATO continue to evolve. The threat from Iran will only grow as that nation gains more technological prowess and continues its push towards nuclear weapons. The stakes will only rise and NATO will need to continue to adapt and strengthen its anti-ballistic missile systems to meet these dangerous challenges. Therefore, NATO needs to pursue a strong enough missile defense policy that can respond to current missile threats, but be flexible enough to deal with upcoming challenges. The future threats that NATO will face will change, whether a current foe obtains new missiles that threatens the continent, or new danger zones are created in areas that were once stable or safe. Some tangible threats on the horizon are an indigenous Iranian missile program that will expand its Shehab missile program and upon the BM-25 platform. Iran will try to continue to trade with North Korea, which will continue on the path towards nuclear warhead miniaturization and increased rocket
NATO needs to maintain a flexible and fluid approach to missile defense.
strength, as seen in its satellite launch last year. Finally, just as the Iranian and North Korean threat grows as a part of their cooperation, NATO can also get assistance from other partners. Linking NATO’s early warning system with regional radar operators, such as Russia, the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Israel will expand Europe’s vigilance and solidify a meaningful and strong regional cooperation revolving around missile defense.
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
DPA, “U.S. Troops arrive in Turkey for NATO missile deployment at Syria border,” Haaretz, Jan. 05, 2013. http:// www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/u-s-troops-arrive-in-turkeyfor-nato-missile-deployment-at-syria-border-1.492061. 2 ”Syria Missiles,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2012. http:// www.nti.org/media/pdfs/syria_missiles_table.pdf? _=1344557599&_=1344557599. 3 ”Ballistic missile defence,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49635.htm. 4 ”Russia angry over US missile shield,” Aljazeera, Aug. 15, 2008. h t t p : / / w w w . a l j a z e e r a . c o m / n e ws / europe/2008/08/200881514010734640.html 5 Baker, Peter, ”Mending Fences, Biden Assures Poland That U.S. Is Watching Over It,” The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2009. http:// www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/world/europe/22biden.html? _r=0. 6 ”The European Phased Adaptive Approach at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, May 2013, http://www.armscontrol.org/ factsheets/Phasedadaptiveapproach. 7 ”Ballistic missile defence,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49635.htm. 8 Jaffe, Ben-Zion, “Ballistic Blowout,” Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, http://aijac.org.au/news/article/ballistic-blowout . 9 Broad, William J. and James Glanz and David E. Sanger, “Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea,” The New York Times, Nov. 28, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/ world/middleeast/29missiles.html?_r=0 . 10 Rubin, Uzi, “Yes, We Should Worry About Iran’s Satellite,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2009. http://online.wsj.com/ article/SB123517621950437485.html. 11 Hildreth, Steven A. and Carl Ek, “CRS Report for Congress: Long-Range Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe,” July 24, 2008. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/ organization/109545.pdf. 12 ”Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): X-55 Long Range Cruise Missile,” GlobalSecurity.org, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/ world/iran/x-55.htm. 13 ”Shahab 3,” Missile Threat, http://missilethreat.com/missiles/ shahab-3/. 14 Lake, Eli, “US recovery of North Korean satellite exposed nuclear progress,” The Telegraph, Apr. 15, 2013, http:// www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/the-daily-beast/9995514/USr e c ov e r y - of - N o r t h - K o r e a n- s a t e l l i t e -e x p o s e d- n u c l e ar progress.html. 15 Torres, Ida, “Japan deploys rockets in Tokyo, readies to shoot down North Korean missiles,” Japan Daily Press, Apr. 9, 2013. http://japandailypress.com/japan-deploys-rockets-in-tokyoreadies-to-shoot-down-north-korean-missiles-0926628.
Missile Defense in Europe: Never-Ending, Ever-Changing Story By Václav Trejbal
report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office
hen discussing the evolution of the NATO
(GAO) in February which questioned the viability of develop-
missile defense shield, its importance to
ing a new missile interceptor (SM-3 Block 2B) for installation
Europe´s security, its political significance
in Poland. Congress has also flagged doubts about the Phased
in relations with Russia and Iran, and its possible future devel-
Adaptive Approach in general and the SM-3 Block 2B in par-
opments, it is worth remembering that a serious, concerted
ticular: lawmakers provided only a fraction of what the MDA
and continuous pursuit of antiballistic missile technologies
requested for the programme in 2012. The GAO report ech-
began 30 years ago during Ronald Reagan´s presidency, with
oed one of the findings of a U.S. National Research Council
the aim of improving U.S. national security and lowering its
missile defense study released last year which concluded that
reliance on nuclear weapons. At the time, Reagan boldly
the fourth phase of the EPAA, which features SM-3 Block 2B
tried to take on the concept of mutually assured destruction
deployment, would do little to protect the eastern part of the
and diminish the value of the Soviet Union’s deterrence, even
United States from Iranian missiles.
though the basis of the Strategic Defense Initiative belonged
The Obama administration is thus scaling back the
to the realm of science fiction. Today, the goal of the missile
EPAA, its contribution to the NATO Missile Defense shield,
defense system developed jointly by the U.S. and NATO is
and instead is increasing the number of Ground Based Inter-
rather different: to protect the U.S and its allies against a
ceptors (GBI) to be positioned in Alaska. In addition, another
“limited ballistic missile attack” by rogue countries who oper-
TPY-2 radar will be deployed in Japan. The reasons behind
ate outside of the actions of the major powers.
the latest shift in priorities are multiple. It is worth looking at
One should not forget how tenaciously the missile defense programme evolved in the last three decades, adapt-
them in greater detail to explore the forces driving the evolution of missile defense.
ing to changing political realities, military considerations and
The most obvious reason is the escalation of tensions
budgetary constraints. It is sufficient to say that as one of the
on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has slowly and steadily
Pentagon’s biggest acquisition programmes, the Missile De-
improved its missile capabilities in recent years and U.S. offi-
fense Agency (MDA) received $141.1 billion out of the
cials say its missiles may be capable of hitting outlying U.S.
$149.8 billion requested from Congress over 27 years for all
territories and states, including Guam, Alaska and Hawaii. In
of its programmes. More often than not, missile defense has
March, Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint
lived its own life, and has been prone to U-turns, surprising
Chiefs of Staff, told journalists that the KN-08 missile
American enemies and allies
“probably does have the range to reach
the United States." This is disputed – The last changes to the
some private experts regard this assess-
ment as alarmist, since there is no evi-
Approach (EPAA), announced
dence that North Korea has mastered
in March 2013, basically dis-
and tested the complex art of miniatur-
carded the fourth and the fur-
izing a nuclear weapon to be placed on a
thest stage of the EPAA and
long-range missile. When some experts
should not come as a surprise to an experienced observer.
Russian ICBM’s during a parade in Moscow (Photo: Russian Ministry of Defense)
After all, warning signs appeared well before the actual decision. One of them was a Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
examined close-up pictures of a KN-08 missile on display in Pyongyang, they concluded it was a fake or mock-up. As
disturbing as it may sound, the U.S. intelligence estimates of 8
North Korean (and Iranian) missile capabilities are sketchy
might expect. The rationale for their position is clear: while
and mostly based on blurry photographs taken during military
for now the intent of the missile defense system is to inter-
parades in Pyongyang (or Tehran). This was painfully obvious
cept the missiles potentially aimed at the U.S. by a few rogue
during the Joint Threat Assessment talks between American
states, the mission might be easily expanded by future admin-
and Russian experts in December 2009 in which the Ameri-
istrations (by deleting the word “limited” from the current
can team argued that North Korea had paraded the advanced
National Missile Defense Act) to stop all missiles regardless of
BM-25 missile through the streets of Pyongyang (and then
their origin. Russia does not want its deterrent to be depend-
exported it to Iran) while Russian counterparts disagreed,
ent on whims of American policy-making:
saying they “had reviewed the video of the North Korean
come and go, antimissiles stay. Thus, whatever its current or
military parade and concluded that North Korea had shown a
planned capabilities, the missile defense programme is di-
rected against Russia.
On another occasion, the Russians asked how the
This point is further demonstrated by the unsuccessful
Americans we able to assess the type of propellant used in an
attempts of the Obama administration to sooth Russian con-
Iranian space launch vehicle called Safir and whether the U.S.
cerns by providing guarantees in the form of presidential ex-
had any clear images of the Safir that allow for the assessment
ecutive agreements. These would not require the approval of
of tank volumes and the ratio of fuel to oxidizer. “The U.S.
Congress but would nevertheless be legally binding. In such
said that the weld lines of the second stage are clear in the
an agreement, both sides would pledge not to use their po-
pictures Iran put on the Internet, and U.S. analysts were able
tential against each other and to implement confidence build-
to make pretty good calculations based on this information.
ing measures such as regular information exchange, joint ex-
Russia questioned this, saying that the photos did not allow for accurate measurements of distances.“ So much for analytical wizardry behind the intel-
ercises and threat assessments.
The bottom line is that according to U.S. estimates, the North Korean threat is developing faster than anticipated.
ligence estimates. The bottom
would only be binding for the president who signed it, the Russian side is not interested in such a solution and insists
line is that according to U.S. estimates, the North Korean
on a reliable and enforceable international treaty. Such a doc-
threat is developing faster than anticipated.
ument would, however, face fierce opposition from the Re-
Another important factor playing against SM-3 Block
publican Party in Congress.
2B interceptors were defense budget cuts, exacerbated by the
Apart from demanding formal guarantees, Russia pro-
so-called sequester. Owing to limited funds, the fourth phase
posed the so-called sectoral approach to missile defense archi-
of the EPAA had already been postponed in the past. In addi-
tecture. This would mean the creation of one joint European
tion, the Block 2B interceptors were only in the early tech-
system consisting of two parts – one owned and operated by
nology development phase and hence easy to mothball. Their
Russia, the other by NATO. Parts of the system would be
funding was reduced by Congress already in 2012.
located only along the perimeter of Europe, which would
The Russian Factor
preclude deployment of sensors or interceptors in Central
Cancelling the fourth phase of the EPAA has also the
and Eastern Europe. In addition, the areas of responsibility
potential to allay Russian fears. Moscow suspected that the
would not be divided along a NATO-Russia line but accord-
advanced SM-3 Block II missiles, intended to replace all exist-
ing to the radius of individual parts of the system. Thus, Rus-
ing SM-3s beginning in 2020, would diminish its deterrence
sia could end up defending some NATO countries, particular-
by being able to intercept intermediate and intercontinental
ly on its western borders. It is hard to imagine that such a
ballistic missiles (IRBM, ICBM) early in their flight, thus de-
scenario would be acceptable to those countries.
stabilizing the balance of forces between the two nuclear su-
Yet the Obama administration places great emphasis
perpowers. However, the reaction of Russian officials to the
on reaching a compromise with the Kremlin. Washington
latest developments has not been as positive as someone
hopes that breaking the deadlock of missile defense negotia-
Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
when they received a formal proposal for an “MD scientific tions would clear the way for substantial progress in further research centre,” after the cancellation of the Bush adminreductions of nuclear arms, which is supposed to be one of the istration plans for a radar site in 2009, they regarded the offer main legacies of the president in office. Just as the New START as unacceptable. The level of proposed cooperation did not Treaty of 2010 was signed one year after the cancellation of rameet expectations, as the Czechs sought a U.S. military presdar and interceptor bases in Central Europe proposed by the ence (as Poland did) as clear eviBush administration, the latest change dence of American commitment in course could offer both sides good to the Czech Republic. Because groundwork for further talks. In this such a commitment had not been respect, it is important to note that made, they pulled out of any while the New START does not conagreement on the current system tain any constraints on testing, develand are now waiting for another opment or deployment of U.S. misU.S. president, perhaps with a sile defense programmes, it recognizmore resolute attitude towards es “the existence of the interrelationRussia. Scaling back the EPAA ship between strategic offensive arms changes very little in this equation. and strategic defensive arms.” And If anything, it could be seen in Patriot anti-missile batteries (Photo: NATO) more importantly, it concedes that Prague as yet another concession to the Russians who contin“this interrelationship will become more important as strategic ue to object vehemently to remaining phases of the EPAA. nuclear arms are reduced.“ What is most interesting about the debate circling Reactions in Central Europe missile defense in Central and Eastern Europe are the omniThe American decision to again alter plans to deploy present references to Russia (which is not supposed to be missile defense systems in Europe was met with a carefully neuendangered by MD sensors or interceptors) and the absence tral Polish reaction that telegraphed neither support nor disof the discussion about the Iranian threat or any other potenpleasure with the decision. It was a stark contrast to a big disaptial threats for that matter. After the Russian military incurpointment in 2009 when the Polish government previously took sion in Georgia, most Russia-wary NATO members seek a great political risk in agreeing to host 10 GBI interceptors over additional assurances from the United States, on top of strong objections from Russia and some European countries and NATO commitments stemming from Article 5 of the Washwas unpleasantly surprised by Obama’s move to cancel those ington Treaty. They still regard NATO as an important guarplans. For one thing, the Poles already got their wish and reantor of their security, but are beginning to hedge and reasceived the first full-time U.S. military presence on their soil. sess the internal dynamics of the Alliance. The ten personnel of a U.S. Air Force detachment, which arImplications for NATO cohesion rived last year to Lask Air Base, will be joined by up to 200 visitIn the wider European context, the fourth phase of the ing airmen conducting quarterly training rotations. For another, EPAA was supposed to better deal with IRBM threats against the plan to field about 24 SM-3 Block IIA interceptors on Polish Europe and to extend the capabilities of the European missile territory in 2018 is still in place. This was highlighted by Ameridefense system beyond Europe, with Block IIB interceptors can officials reviewing the impact of the EPAA reassessment. capable of defeating ICBMs targeting the U.S. Therefore, the Thus, for the Poles it was perhaps much more important that in repercussions of the cancellation from the military point of March the SM3 Block IB missile passed the last in a series of five view are rather insignificant. Politically, however, they canqualification tests and is now ready for production. Block IB is not help but point to decreasing U.S. engagement in Europe designated for the second phase of the EPAA and should start in and to growing frustration in Washington about Europe’s 2015 with a land-based site in Romania. It is a good indicator inability to contribute appropriately to the collective defense that the remainder of the programme is going according to of the Euro-Atlantic area. schedule. A telling sign of Warsaw’s increased regional ambiThe operation in Libya, during which the U.S. showed tions and commitment to collective defense is a recently angreat reluctance to lead the campaign, the new quadrennial nounced intention to build its own national air and missile dedefense review, which placed greater emphasis on Asia, and fense system that would be linked-up to a wider NATO shield. the fact that for the first time in years a significant amount of As for the Czech position, the country´s pro-American American soldiers are going to leave the continent – all this transatlanticist elite, which is now in power, thinks that NATO testifies to the change of mood in Washington. The situation has lost its focus with the wars outside its territory and that miswas bluntly summarized by the former U.S. Defense Secresile defense can unite and refocus NATO once again. Thus, suctary Robert Gates in his final policy speech. Gates issued a cessive Czech governments wanted a role in missile defense. But Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
dire and direct warning that the United States, the traditional leader and patron of the Alliance, was exhausted by a decade of war and its own mounting budget deficits and simply might not see NATO as worth supporting any longer. He went on to warn that “there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.” Missile defense is an excellent case in point. According to NATO Secretary General A.F. Rasmussen the costs of the basic assets and common command-and-control element of NATO’s
EPAA implementation on so many unpredictable factors, it is highly doubtful that the missile defence shield over Europe will be mounted according to the original plans. Its role as a binding agent for NATO should not be taken for granted.
About the author Václav Trejbal is a PhD student at the University of Economics in Prague, the topic of his thesis is relations between Russia and Central Europe. He works as an analyst at financial portal Patria Online. 1
“National Missile Defense Act of 1999,“ The Library of Congress, Accessed April 29, 2013, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z? missile defense system are estimated at about €1 billion spread c106:S.269. 2 E.B. Smith and Ratnam Gopal, over approximately 14 years. Since “$35B Missile Defense Misses Bullet the system is financed through the With Bullet,” Bloomberg, August 3, What is most interesting about the debate circling missile NATO Security Investment Pro2011, Accessed April 29, 2013, gramme (NSIP) in which European defense in Central and Eastern Europe are the omnipresent http:/ /www.bloomberg.com/ news/2011-08-03/missile-defensereferences to Russia...and the absence of the discussion NATO members contribute more costing-35-billion-misses-bulletsabout the Iranian threat... with-bullest.html. than 70% of the budget, it could 3 ”Rethink the SM-3 Block 2B,” Space be safely assumed that Europeans News. Accessed April 29, 2013, http://www.spacenews.com/article/editorial-rethink-the-sm-3-blockwould share the majority of its costs. However, it is a far cry 2b#. UXOVAUgK3IY. from the sums spent by the U.S. on the EPAA and other parts of 4 ”Report Recommends Cost-Effective Plan to Strengthen U.S. Defense Against Ballistic Missile Attacks; Serious Limitations Make Boost-Phase its missile defense efforts. The MDA’s latest budget assessment Missile Interception Impractical,” National Academies, Accessed April 29, calculates $43.3 billion in expenditures between 2012 and 2016. 2013, http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx? recordid-13189. Thus, the Pentagon is on track to outspend its European allies 5 Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart, “North Korea lacks means for nucleabout hundredfold! ar strike on U.S., experts say,” Reuters, Accessed April 28, 2013. In addition, European theatre ballistic missile intercephttp://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/04/04/us-korea-northusa-capabilities-idUSBRE9331A920130404. tors are of limited value to territorial defense, which is the ulti6 Secretary of State (United States), “U.S. Russia Joint threat Assessment mate goal of the missile defense programme. Some members can Talks-December 2009, 24 February 2010,” http:// www.cablegatesearch.net, Accessed April 29, 2013. at least contribute sensors. All in all, the co-funding of a com7 Ibid. 8 mon command-and-control system and the hosting of U.S. assets Jacek Durkalec, “NATO Missile Defense: In search of a Broader Role,” The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, no.1 (2012): 73-74. still seem insufficient demonstrations of serious European en9 Elena Chernenko, “Baraku Obame ne veryat na slovo,” Kommersant, gagement in creating a NATO territorial missile defense system. April 23, 2013. http://www.komersant.ru/doc/2176643. 10 ”Treaty between the United States of American and Russian FederaThe lack a of serious effort on the part of a majority of tion of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic European NATO members to protect their territories from misOffensive Arms,” The White House, Accessed April 20, 2013, cwww.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/04/08/new-start-treaty-andsile threats stems in part from the tight fiscal conditions and protocol. budget cuts imposed by the European debt crisis and the overall 11 ”Aerojet SM-3 Block IB TDACS Completes Qualification Testing,” The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2013, Accessed April 30, 2013, http:// economic weakness in Europe. But it also reflects, to a larger online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130313-914106.html?mod=crnews. extent, the fact that NATO members have divergent opinions 12 Thom Shanker, “Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future,” about the imminence of the ballistic missile threat. So far, it has The New York Times, June 10, 2011, Accessed April 30, 2013, http:// www.nytimes.com/2011/06/11/world/europe/11gates.html. not been such an obstacle to prevent the creation of a missile 13 A.F. Rasmussen, “NATO Needs a Missile Defense,” The New York defense programme under the NATO flag, but in view of the Times, 12 October 2010, Accessed April 30, 2013, http:// www.nytimes.com/2010/10/13/opinion/13iht-edrasmussen.html? above-mentioned trends, continuing lack of consensus could test _r=0. 14 U.S. resolve to deliver on other promised EPAA elements. ”MDA Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Outline,” MDA, November 14, 2012, Accessed April 30, 2013, http://missilethreat.com/missile-defenseMissile defense could be the most important joint capaagency-mda-fiscal-year-2012-budget-outline/. bility development project for NATO in this decade. Because of 15 Jacek Durkalec, “NATO Missile Defense: In Search of a BroaRole,” The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, no.1 (2012): 71. the need to cooperate on command-and-control procedures,
rules of engagement and asset deployments, it certainly has the potential to strengthen the transatlantic link. However, experience of the last years suggests that given the dependency of the Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 5
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Published on May 22, 2013
Ben-Zion Jaffe explores the potential for a NATO missile shield while discussing threats of ballistic missiles and the opportunities provide...