Missile Defence in Europe: The Next Salvo

From the Economist: If American technology develops as expected, by 2018 the new shield would cover almost all of NATO’s European members against an Iranian attack—only a small part of Turkey would be exposed. That is a big change from the previous scheme, which was intended mainly to protect America from an intercontinental threat, leaving chunks of Europe unprotected. The new system poses even less of a threat to Russia’s nuclear arsenal (the Americans say neither ever did). The SM-3 interceptors now planned have a shorter range and fly less quickly than the rockets proposed by the Bush administration. Moreover, much of the system—the tracking radars and the Romania-based interceptors—will be deployed further south, unable to interfere with Russian missiles heading for America over the Arctic.

The main basis for the Kremlin’s complaint is political. Though Russia grudgingly accepted that ex-communist countries could join NATO, it sees the creation of American bases there as a breach of a promise made when the Soviet Union consented to German reunification. (American officials insist no such promise was ever given.)

Regardless, America is making other security arrangements. It is placing Patriot anti-aircraft missiles in Poland. More significantly, it has pushed NATO into agreeing to draw up military contingency plans to defend the Baltic states. It will hold drills there later this year. Russia’s growling may have brought results—but probably not the ones that Moscow wanted. (photo: AFP)


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