U.S. seeks missile-defense shields for Asia, Mideast (REUTERS) By Jim Wolf WASHINGTON 03/26/12 10:08pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - The United States is seeking to build regional shields
against ballistic missiles in both Asia and the Middle East akin to a
controversial defense system in Europe, a senior Pentagon official
disclosed on Monday.
The effort may complicate U.S. ties with Russia and China, both of
which fear such defenses could harm their security even though the
United States says they are designed only to protect against states
like Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. push for new anti-missile bulwarks includes two sets of
trilateral dialogues - one with Japan and Australia and the other
with Japan and South Korea, said Madelyn Creedon, an assistant
secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.
Such shields could help counter perceived threats to their neighbors
from Iran and North Korea and help defend the United States from any
future long-range missiles that the two countries might develop, she
told a conference co-hosted by the Pentagon´s Missile Defense Agency.
The model would be the so-called "phased adaptive approach" for
missile defense in Europe, Creedon said. This includes putting
interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania, a radar in Turkey and the
home-porting of missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in Spain.
Moscow fears that such a shield, given planned upgrades, could grow
strong enough by 2020 to undermine Moscow´s own nuclear deterrent
force. It has threatened to deploy missiles to overcome the shield
and potentially target missile defense installations such as those
planned in NATO members Poland and Romania.
China likely would be even more opposed to an antimissile shield in
its backyard, said Riki Ellison, a prominent missile-defense advocate
noted for his close ties to current and former U.S. senior military
officials involved in the effort.
Beijing "would take much more offense to an Asian phased adaptive
approach than Russia is doing with the European one," he said,
calling regional shields a good idea in theory but problematic in
In the Middle East, Creedon said Washington will work to
promote "interoperability and information-sharing" among the members
of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain,
Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - as they acquire greater
The biggest U.S. missile defense contractors include Boeing Co,
Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.
The Obama administration at the same time stepped back from an
announcement this month that it was weighing the possibility of
giving Russia certain classified missile-defense data as the price
for winning its acquiescence to the European shield.
"We are not proposing to provide them with classified information,"
Ellen Tauscher, the administration´s special envoy for strategic
stability and missile defense, told the conference. Instead, she
said, the Obama administration had offered Moscow a chance to monitor
a flight test in international waters of a U.S. Standard Missile-3
This, she said, would let Russian officials see for themselves the
accuracy of "what we are saying about our system." The United States
argues that the U.S. system poses no threat to Russia´s nuclear
As recently as March 6, the administration had said it was continuing
negotiations begun under former President George W. Bush on a pact
with Moscow that could include sharing limited classified data, but
said it was making no headway toward a deal with Russia.
Obama´s administration was not the first "to believe that cooperation
could be well-served by some limited sharing of classified
information of a certain kind if the proper rules were in place to do
that," Bradley Roberts, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, had
told the House of Representatives´ Armed Services subcommittee on
strategic forces at the time.
The idea of such data-sharing drew sharp criticism from Republicans
in the U.S. Congress including a move to legislate a prohibition.
The rollback on any such deal involving classified data exchange came
after President Barack Obama was caught on camera on Monday assuring
outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have "more
flexibility" to deal with contentious issues like missile defense
after the November 6 U.S. presidential election.
Obama, during talks in Seoul, urged Moscow to give him "space" until
after the vote, and Medvedev said he would relay the message to
Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin.
(with additional reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Eric
Beech) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 03/26/12)
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