Posts Tagged ‘missile defence shield’

President Obama has decided to scrap plans for a US missile defence shield system in Eastern Europe. Proposed by the Bush government as a land version of Reagan’s space-based ‘star wars’ scheme, they planned 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and radar in Czechoslovakia. NATO had already been expanded to include these two former Warsaw Pact members.

None of this of course had anything to do with surrounding Russia with potentially hostile weaponery and US allies, but strangely President Putin found Bush’s scheme very provocative in a supposedly post Cold War environment. Use of the term ‘defence shield’ did not reassure him.

No, it was aimed at protecting the U.S. and allies from long-range missile attacks from Iran or elsewhere in the Middle East! Basic geography suggests a Persian missile would have to fly across Turkey, Western Europe, Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean before sighting Manhattan. Apparently the defence shield was best located next to Russia rather than in any of these locations, including aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines.

Clearly Putin was just excessively paranoid and those inclusive Americans were worried about European allies being struck by hardline Islamist rockets. Israelis are a tad closer to Iran than everybody else, but are not worried. Defence Minister Barak sees no existential threat to Israel from Iran or any other country.  

Diplomatic pundits reckon that Obama’s decision clears the way to get Russia’s help with putting more pressure on Iran’s nuclear weapons plans, and also upcoming talks on international nuclear disarmament. 

Geo-politics and strategy is sometimes a mesmerising business, but at least in this case, hope springs eternal for common sense to prevail. See START.

Fog outback WA2

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Barack and Dmitry apparently had a positive bonding session in talks in Moscow this week, which may be good news for the world. The 1991 START-1 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is due to expire in December and another accord is required for Russia and the USA to implement reductions in their nuclear arsenals.

Reports indicate that Presidents Obama & Medvedev agreed to decrease their stocks of warheads from 2200 each to 1500-1675 and delivery systems (missiles, ships, submarines) from 1600 to 500-1100. The devil may be in the detail and success depends on eventual verification procedures, but humanity can breathe a little easier.

However a stumbling block remains for future talks: US plans for a so-called missile defence shield in Europe. Indeed it must be hard to convince the Russians of the need to surround them with missiles in Eastern Europe – to protect US allies from the threat of nuclear attack by Iran. Does that mean Russia too? Included as allies, that is.

As our Kevin might say: pass the sauce bottle for another suck. But Obama has apparently left open the possibility of collaboration with the Russians on that one. Watch the space, so to speak.

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