European Missile Defense System Shelved by Obama

Departmentt of Defense discusses decision of European missile defense system.
Departmentt of Defense discusses decision of European missile defense system. Photo by Reuters.

President Barack Obama, along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, announced today that the longtime debated missile defense system would not be continued. The missile defense system would have been built in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The decision brought immediate criticism from Republicans. Ohio Representative John Boehner, the House minority leader said, “Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more then empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe. It shows a willful determination to continue ignoring the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world, while taking one of the most important defenses against Iran off the table.”

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyle commented saying:

“Not only does this decision leave America vulnerable to the growing Iranian long-range missile threat, it also turns back the clock to the days of the Cold War, when Eastern Europe was considered the domain of Russia.

“This will be a bitter disappointment, indeed, even a warning to the people of Eastern Europe. The message the administration sends today is clear: the United States will not stand behind its friends and views ‘re-setting’ relations with Russia more important.”

The Obama administration states that Russia was not the reason for scrapping the missile defense system, but that it was new intelligence about Iran and its short and middle range missiles with a lack of intercontinental ballistic capabilities.

In a secret report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it states that Iran has “sufficient information” and ability to make and deliver a nuclear weapon along with the development of a long range missile system.

The Russian government views the decision by Obama as “a victory for common sense.” Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia’s Parliament, also went on to state “It another positive signal that we have received from Washington that makes the general climate very positive.”

Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev said, “We appreciate the responsible attitude of the President of the United States to implement our agreements. I am ready to continue the dialogue.”

While this missile defense system has been shelved by the Obama administration, it does not mean the area will be left without. The Department of Defense has developed a four-phased plan that would shield the area.

  • Phase One (in the 2011 timeframe) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems available in the next two years, including the sea-based Aegis Weapon System, the SM-3 interceptor (Block IA), and sensors such as the forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2), to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe and our deployed personnel and their families;
  • Phase Two (in the 2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats;
  • Phase Three (in the 2018 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA variant currently under development, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats; and
  • Phase Four (in the 2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the SM-3 Block IIB to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States.

Obama went on to say, “Our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program. Because our approach will be phased and adaptive, we will retain the flexibility to adjust and enhance our defenses as the threat and technology continue to evolve.”


Transcript of President Obama’s Remarks

White House Fact Sheet on the “Phased, Adaptive Approach”

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