shield to protect European allies against Iran “whether Russia likes it
or not,” the U.S. envoy to NATO said on Friday.
Moscow’s objections to the project, which includes participation by
Romania, Poland, Turkey and Spain, “won’t be the driving force in what
we do,” Ivo Daalder, the ambassador, told reporters at a breakfast
The U.S. estimate of the Iranian ballistic missile threat has gone up,
not down, over the two years since President Barack Obama opted for a
new, four-phased deployment to protect the United States and NATO
allies, Daalder said.
“It’s accelerating,” Daalder said of the U.S.-perceived threat of Iran’s
ballistic missiles, “and becoming more severe than even we thought two
“We’re deploying all four phases, in order to deal with that threat,
whether Russia likes it or not,” he added. At the same time, he urged
Moscow to cooperate in both to deal with Iran and to see for itself
that, as he put it, the system’s capabilities pose its strategic
deterrent force no threat.
If the perceived threat from Iran ebbs, “then maybe the system will be adapted to that lesser threat,” Daalder said.
Obama pleased the Kremlin in September 2009 by scrapping his
predecessor’s plan for longer-range interceptor missiles in Poland and a
radar installation in the Czech Republic, a move that helped to improve
But Moscow says that the revised version, using land- and sea-based
Standard Missile-3 interceptors, could undermine its security if planned
interceptor improvements become capable of neutralizing Russia’s
strategic nuclear deterrent force.
Washington and NATO have invited Russia to join in some aspects of the
project, including possible joint early warning. Before agreeing to any
such cooperation, Moscow is demanding a legally binding pledge from the
United States that Moscow’s nuclear forces would not be targeted by the
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that if the deadlock
continues, Moscow would boost its early-warning radar to protect its
nuclear missile sites, deploy weapons that could overcome a shield and
potentially target missile defense installations to its south and west.
With NATO continuing largely to shrug off Russia’s
concerns, Moscow’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, was quoted as
saying this week that Russia may review its cooperation with the supply
route through Russia for NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Daalder said the sides remain at odds over, among other things, Russia’s
demand for the legally binding pledge, before any cooperation, that its
nuclear forces would not be targeted by the NATO elements.
“They have gotten themselves quite hung up on our unwillingness to put this in legally binding writing,” he said.
The administration was not convinced that such a pledge would be
ratified by the U.S. Senate, he said, nor should Moscow be convinced
that even if it were, “we wouldn’t necessarily at some point walk away
from it,” as the George W. Bush administration did from the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the only U.S.-Russia missile defense