At Russia’s international missile defense conference held in Moscow May 3 4, U.S. experts will make their case for the European missile defense plan “in a broader forum,” one of the delegation leaders said today.
Ellen Tauscher, special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense at the State Department, said the United States welcomes the opportunity to participate in the missile defense conference, organized by the Russian defense ministry.
Madelyn R. Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, also heads the delegation. The delegation heads spoke to reporters during a telephone briefing from Moscow.
“We view this as an opportunity to exchange various viewpoints on missile defense,” Creedon said, “and also as an opportunity to hear various views of our colleagues from the approximately 50 countries that we understand have sent representatives to this meeting.”
The ministry also invited NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to the meeting, which is being held, according to Russian news reports, to analyze global missile threats and assess technical characteristics of future missile systems that may threaten Europe.
During NATO’s 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network, but negotiations have since ground to a halt.
The U.S. phased adaptive approach to European missile defense is a long-term source of tension between the United States and Russia, whose concerns are political and technical, Tauscher said.
“Our view and analysis is that the United States missile defense doesn’t undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent,” she said. “We have explained our position in numerous official and public channels and we will once again present the technical facts at this conference.”
It is in both nations’ mutual interest, she added, to engage in cooperation and avoid confrontation.
“While the United States and Russia are cooperating on a wide range of issues, from Afghanistan to counterterrorism to trade, cooperation on missile defense could be a game changer in U.S.-Russia and NATO-Russia relations,” Tauscher said.
“Cooperation has the potential to enhance the national security of both the United States and Russia, … [and] presents an opportunity to put aside the vestiges of Cold War thinking and move away from mutually assured destruction toward mutually assured stability,” she said.
Creedon said the exchange this week will allow the United States to publicly provide reasons why the U.S. missile defense plan is designed to protect the homeland and Europe and is not aimed at Russia. The plan calls for a steady buildup of sea- and land-based systems designed to protect European nations and U.S. troops in Europe from a growing threat of missile attack from North Korea and the Middle East, particularly Iran.
“We’ve listened to Russia’s concerns,” Creedon said. “We continue to seek solutions that will address them but we continue to believe that the best way is through cooperation and not confrontation. We hope very much that this meeting tomorrow and on Friday will revitalize the spirit of cooperation and we hope that in the near future we will actually be able to enter into constructive mutually beneficial cooperation on missile defense.”
Tauscher said the United States is committed to all four phases of the phased adaptive approach, and that the negotiators have been transparent with Russia about the timing, deployment and scope of the U.S. missile defense deployment.
“While we can work cooperatively together, we cannot agree to preconditions outlined by the Russian government,” she said. “We cannot agree to any limitations on our missile defense deployment. We are able to agree, however, to a political statement that our missile defenses are not directed at Russia.”
She added that such a statement would publicly proclaim the U.S. intent to cooperate and chart the direction for cooperation, not limitation.
“I hope my Russian colleagues recognize that we have no capability or intent to undermine strategic stability, and our objective is not about winning public relations points,” Tauscher said, “and that cooperation is a much better approach than sticking to the previous pattern of competition.”