Missile defense reversal may ruffle some allies in Europe
WASHINGTON — By adding 14 interceptors to a missile defense system based in Alaska and California, the United States is abandoning a critical part of a European system strongly opposed by Russia.
The decision could provide a potential opening for new arms control talks with Moscow, but it's likely to make some allies in Europe unhappy.
The Obama administration on Friday cited development problems and a lack of money in announcing the cancellation of the interceptors set to be deployed in Poland and possibly Romania early next decade, the fourth and final phase of a missile defense shield.
The fourth phase was intended to defend against Iranian long-range missiles, which do not exist.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said Poland and Romania were informed of the decision before the announcement, but Russia was not.
The decision to cancel the interceptors for Eastern Europe was criticized by Republicans in Congress who have charged that President Obama has undermined allies while pursuing his goals to drastically cut nuclear weapons.
“President Obama's reverse course decision will cost the American taxpayer more money and upset our allies,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who heads the House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees missile defense programs.
The shift in U.S. missile defense plans in Europe is the second major change to the program since Obama has been in the White House. It could cause unease among allies, including Poland and Romania, who view the system as a sign of engagement in the region and a counterweight to Russia.
Fome experts said that not going forward with the final phase was a good sign.
“The United States should not cancel phase four to appease Russia. The simpler reason is that the United States does not need phase four,” Tom Z. Collina wrote in Foreign Policy, explaining that the interceptor missile had technical issues and that the United States had better options to guard against potential Iranian long-range missiles.
Missile defense has been a contentious issue since President George W. Bush sought to base long-range interceptors in Central Europe to stop Iranian missiles.
Obama reworked the Bush administration's plan soon after taking office in 2009. He canceled an interceptor planned for Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, replacing the high-speed interceptors with slower ones that could stop Iran's medium-range missiles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama: Climate pact an ‘act of defiance’ after Paris attacks
- Pope Francis visits mosque in war-torn Central African Republic, calls for end to conflict
- U.S. Marine found guilty of killing transgender Filipino
- French President Hollande, activists gear up for climate talks
- After U.S. indictments, Chinese military scalesc back hacks on American industry
- World leaders show willingness to act at climate change summit