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A Bad Treaty Is Better Than A Good Missile

Russia's SS-18 intermediate range missile on launch.

US must discuss missile shield with Russia, EU - Kwasniewski
Warsaw (RIA Novosti) Feb 21 - Poland's ex-president Aleksander Kwasniewski said Warsaw should insist that Washington discuss its missile defense plans with Russia and the European Union. The U.S. has announced plans to build elements of its missile defense system in central Europe, which has raised security concerns in Moscow. "Undoubtedly, Poland's security is important but I think our main condition must be that the Americans should discuss this issue with at least two of their main partners - Russia and the EU," Kwasniewski told the Polish TVN24.

The U.S. insists that the European missile shield is meant to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea but Russia says the deployment of missile bases close to its borders could only mean it is the real target. The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic reaffirmed Monday their readiness to allow the U.S. to base parts of its missile shield on their territories.

The former Polish president warned Warsaw against getting involved in the negative consequences with Russia if the U.S. does deploy elements of its missile defense system in central Europe. "I think it is some kind of game which we should not participate in," Kwasniewski said, calling for broad public discussions of the U.S. missile defense system in Poland.

by Andrei Kislyakov
RIA Novosti political commentator
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 21, 2007
In December of this year, the Russian-American treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles (INF Treaty) may celebrate its 20th anniversary. Or it may not. Considering the position of Poland and the Czech Republic, which are about to allow the Americans to install elements of an anti-missile defense system on their soil, the Russian leadership may well act on its recent threat to withdraw from that treaty. Such a step will certainly have many repercussions.

In mid-February, Yury Baluyevsky, chief of Russia's General Staff, said that Russia might unilaterally pull out of the 1987 treaty. He directly linked the possibility of that step with plans for the implementation of an American anti-missile defense program for European countries.

For several years now the Russian military and political leadership has been saying that it will give an asymmetrical, less expensive but very effective answer to Washington's anti-missile defense plans. It is no secret that the reference is to systems, both existing and under development, for penetrating anti-missile defenses with Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In principle there is nothing radical about this, despite the fact it pits strategic offensive weapons against purely defensive armaments. Modernizing the existing nuclear missile arsenal is indeed quite an understandable asymmetrical answer to the appearance of global anti-missile systems. But adding intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles to such an answer in the future is not a very happy choice.

By the mid-1980s, efforts by the U.S.S.R. and the United States to deploy intermediate- and shorter-range missiles had reached their peak and posed a real threat to global security. In the middle of December 1985, the Americans completed the deployment in Germany of all 108 planned Pershing-2 ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,800 kilometers. With an impressive circular error probable of 20-40 meters, the missile could carry a nuclear warhead with a regulated TNT equivalent of 50-100 kilograms. The target approach time was about 14 minutes.

In addition, Britain (on two bases), Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany deployed a total of about 500 GLCM/109G missiles with nuclear warheads. The range of these missiles was 2,500 kilometers.

The U.S.S.R. could engage the probable enemy from several positioning areas on its territory by deploying its famous Pioneer mobile ground-based missile system, carrying an RSD-10 (SS-20) missile with a range of around 5,200 kilometers, i.e. the whole of Europe lay within its reach. There were also plans to deploy this system in the country's Far Eastern near-polar region. In that case, most of the U.S. western seaboard would have been vulnerable. And even that was not the whole story. In November 1983, a decision was made to develop a new advanced Skorost mobile missile system, which would be deployed in Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

But even under these circumstances, the U.S.'s tightening nuclear missile noose compelled the U.S.S.R.'s leadership to hold negotiations on the limitation of intermediate-range missiles.

In such a case it is hard to refrain from asking: why is the present situation any different than the past? It is not, to put it mildly. Should the Americans want to drop their rhetoric about the future of the INF Treaty in favor of practice, they will have all of Western Europe at their disposal. Speaking technically, an initial arrangement could be to replace destroyed ground-launched cruise missiles with similar, but not banned, ground-based SLCM/BGM-109A Tomahawk missiles (only mothballed in 1991) equipped with nuclear warheads.

For Russia, however, the second episode in the saga of intermediate-range missile deployment is one big question mark. Which plant will manufacture the required number of missiles? The existing facility east of the Urals chronically fails to cope even with the production of ICBMs ordered by the state. What must be the procedure for condemning land for positioning areas and where should they be located? How to provide the proper infrastructure and bring units up to the necessary strength? How to ensure uninterrupted command and control, including launching new communications and reconnaissance satellites into orbit?

And last but not least: where is the war chest to help pay for all these things? If we recognize that no magic wand has been found yet, then we'll have to cut back on existing national projects, and no one will be able to choose which ones to axe.

Sergei Ivanov, Russia's former defense minister, may have been right to describe the INF Treaty as a relic. But all things old are not always worse than what's new.

Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily coincide with those of the editorial board.

Source: RIA Novosti

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Russian Threat To Withdraw From INF Not Bluff
Washington (UPI) Feb 21, 2007
The extraordinary tough talk coming out of Moscow over the past week on the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty is mixed but not contradictory. First, four-star Army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, the Chief of the Russian General Staff, warned explicitly last Thursday that Russia might unilaterally pull out of the nearly 20-year-old treaty that has been a cornerstone of detente and of peace and security in Europe.

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