| WASHINGTON, March 26
WASHINGTON, March 26 The United States is
seeking to build regional shields against ballistic missiles in
both Asia and the Middle East akin to an emerging bulwark in
Europe, a senior Pentagon official disclosed 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 regional 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.
"As we work to develop the architectures for these regions,
we will focus on approaches that facilitate opportunities to
work with allies and partners in meeting current and emerging
security challenges and contribute to efforts to build
partnership capacity," Creedon said.
The model for new regional shields would be the so-called
"phased adaptive approach" for missile defense in Europe, she
added. That includes putting interceptor missiles in Poland and
Romania, a radar in Turkey and the home porting of missile
defense-capable Aegis destroyers in Spain.
Russia says it fears this system could weaken it by becoming
capable of thwarting the nuclear missiles relied on by Moscow
as a strategic deterrent against attack.
China likely would be even more opposed to a new antimissile
defense in its backyard, said Riki Ellison, a prominent
missile-defense advocate noted for his close ties to 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.
Asia lacks a NATO-type alliance to provide diplomatic,
political and military coordination for such a project.
Creedon said regional approaches should be tailored to an
area's unique deterrence and defense profile, taking into
account geography, history, threats, and military-to-military
ties "on which we seek to build cooperative missile defenses."
The demand for missile defense assets within each region
over the next decade will exceed supply, she said.
In response, the United States will develop capabilities
that are mobile and "re-locatable," Creedon added.
The biggest U.S. missile defense contractors include Boeing
Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Corp and Northrop Grumman