U.S. seeks missile-defense shields for Asia, Mideast

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:17am EDT

Member of the U.S. Navy stand aboard the USS Higgins, one of 18 American ships deployed globally with Aegis interceptor systems, during a joint Israeli-U.S. air-defence exercise dubbed 'Juniper Cobra' in the northern Israeli city of Haifa October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool

Member of the U.S. Navy stand aboard the USS Higgins, one of 18 American ships deployed globally with Aegis interceptor systems, during a joint Israeli-U.S. air-defence exercise dubbed 'Juniper Cobra' in the northern Israeli city of Haifa October 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Atef Safadi/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is seeking to build regional shields against ballistic missiles in both Asia and the Middle East akin to a controversial defense system in Europe, a senior Pentagon official disclosed on Monday.

The effort may complicate U.S. ties with Russia and China, both of which fear such defenses could harm their security even though the United States says they are designed only to protect against states like Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. push for new anti-missile bulwarks includes two sets of trilateral dialogues - one with Japan and Australia and the other with Japan and South Korea, said Madelyn Creedon, an assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

Such shields could help counter perceived threats to their neighbors from Iran and North Korea and help defend the United States from any future long-range missiles that the two countries might develop, she told a conference co-hosted by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.

The model would be the so-called "phased adaptive approach" for missile defense in Europe, Creedon said. This includes putting interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania, a radar in Turkey and the home-porting of missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in Spain.

Moscow fears that such a shield, given planned upgrades, could grow strong enough by 2020 to undermine Moscow's own nuclear deterrent force. It has threatened to deploy missiles to overcome the shield and potentially target missile defense installations such as those planned in NATO members Poland and Romania.

China likely would be even more opposed to an antimissile shield in its backyard, said Riki Ellison, a prominent missile-defense advocate noted for his close ties to current and former U.S. senior military officials involved in the effort.

Beijing "would take much more offense to an Asian phased adaptive approach than Russia is doing with the European one," he said, calling regional shields a good idea in theory but problematic in reality.

GULF STATES

In the Middle East, Creedon said Washington will work to promote "interoperability and information-sharing" among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - as they acquire greater missile-defense capabilities.

The biggest U.S. missile defense contractors include Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Obama administration at the same time stepped back from an announcement this month that it was weighing the possibility of giving Russia certain classified missile-defense data as the price for winning its acquiescence to the European shield.

"We are not proposing to provide them with classified information," Ellen Tauscher, the administration's special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, told the conference. Instead, she said, the Obama administration had offered Moscow a chance to monitor a flight test in international waters of a U.S. Standard Missile-3 interceptor.

This, she said, would let Russian officials see for themselves the accuracy of "what we are saying about our system." The United States argues that the U.S. system poses no threat to Russia's nuclear deterrent.

As recently as March 6, the administration had said it was continuing negotiations begun under former President George W. Bush on a pact with Moscow that could include sharing limited classified data, but said it was making no headway toward a deal with Russia.

Obama's administration was not the first "to believe that cooperation could be well-served by some limited sharing of classified information of a certain kind if the proper rules were in place to do that," Bradley Roberts, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, had told the House of Representatives' Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces at the time.

The idea of such data-sharing drew sharp criticism from Republicans in the U.S. Congress including a move to legislate a prohibition.

The rollback on any such deal involving classified data exchange came after President Barack Obama was caught on camera on Monday assuring outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the November 6 U.S. presidential election.

Obama, during talks in Seoul, urged Moscow to give him "space" until after the vote, and Medvedev said he would relay the message to Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin.

(with additional reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (4)
Austell wrote:
All these so called ‘percieved states’ have not attacked anyone… Iran, North Korea, you can include China and Russia in that if you like as well…

Everyone knows that America and Britain are the only countries flying around the world bombing and attacking people.

If there is to be any kind of defense system in the world, it should be designed speciafically to protect us from the United States of America.

Anyone who says any different is using the all too familiar modern political anti-logic… or can be considered nothing but a mouthpiece for US state propaganda.

A great example of this anti-logic recently is the US position on Iran and Israel: The US says Iran will upset the regional balance of power by obtaining nuclear weapons, when in fact if Iran DID have nuclear weapons it would solve the imbalance created by Israels hundreds of illegal nuclear weapons.

Another great example of this anti-logic is the call for democracy in Syria – by supporting the most hardline Islamic, ANTI-democratic elements in the country.

If these guys came to power you would see sharia law implemented, and no democracy whatsoever!

When anti-logic like this is being sold, there is no truth whatsoever to be seen, only the all too prevalent US propaganda machine.

Propaganda is MASSIVE in the US right now, though it always has been, it’s hilarious how US citizens think their press is unique or ‘free’ compared to other countries!!

Seriously, if you could see your country from the outside… you might begin to understand why so many are calling America a failed state.. and why your economy and culture are collapsing.

It really is a bizzarre and fascinating charade to watch.

Mar 26, 2012 12:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
WJL wrote:
How about a missile defence shield in Cuba?

Mar 27, 2012 1:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
KyleDexter wrote:
This whole thing sounds like we want to keep Russia and China in check. Iran and North Korea have only regional military capibilities. This defense shield is suppose to protect countries from “long range missles”. Lat I checked, Iran and North Korea do not have long range missles, only short and medium range missiles.

Mar 27, 2012 2:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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