The Case for a NATO Missile Defense

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

From Ivo Daalder, the International Herald Tribune:  When the 28 NATO allies gather in Lisbon on Friday, one of the most important issues on the agenda will be how to address a real and growing danger to the trans-Atlantic region: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

This danger is neither distant nor dubious. As the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Review makes clear, ballistic missile systems are becoming more flexible, mobile, survivable, reliable and accurate. Their range is increasing, placing the populations and territory of the trans-Atlantic region at increased risk. At the same time, several states are pursuing nuclear, chemical, and/or biological warheads. …

Because of this, the United States has proposed that in Lisbon, leaders of the alliance adopt territorial missile defense as a NATO capability.

NATO territorial missile defense would not be starting from scratch. The alliance already has a program to protect deployed forces. We seek to extend this protection to NATO’s European populations and territory as well. …

Extending this system so allies can protect their populations and territory from missile attack is affordable — less than €200 million over 10 years. That’s very little money for a lot of capability, especially since all 28 allies share the expense. For a midsize ally, the cost equates to less than half a tank each year.

Once fully operational, this capability will protect all 28 allies and can extend its aegis of safety to other nations — to include NATO partners like Russia. The system thus provides an opportunity to engage with our Russian partners — who are also threatened by the proliferation of ballistic missiles — through a substantive cooperative missile defense program. Such engagement should allay any concerns Russia may have about NATO territorial missile defense, and could also improve Russia’s own anti-missile capabilities.

Ivo H. Daalder is the U.S. permanent representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  (photo: AP)

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