Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Putin Denies Iranian Missile Threat

On October 23, 2007, President Bush announced a missile defense system in based in Europe, but supervised by the United States, is urgently needed to counter an emerging threat of attack by Iran.

Bush's latest warning about Iran's nuclear ambitions came as part of a broad defense of his security policies at the National Defense University and not long after Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a news conference in the Czech Republic that the administration might delay activating the proposed missile defense sites until it is able to quantify the risk posed by Iranian missiles.

Bush's warning about Iran was contradicted by Russian Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov during a visit to Tokyo. Lavrov supposedly told Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura that North Korea poses a threat, but that Iran does not.

Bush spoke somewhat positively of President Vladimir Putin's offer of facilities for this purpose in Azerbaijan and southern Russia. The idea would be to replace the U.S. plans for missiles based in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic.

The proposal has already been presented to the Russians, who strongly oppose having U.S. missile defense bases in Europe but have expressed interest in the proposal Gates mentioned Tuesday, which Gates said has yet to be worked out in detail. At a news conference after meeting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Gates said in Prague that the United States would proceed with current plans to build the sites in Europe but possibly wait before putting them in working order. The United States wants to build a missile interceptor base in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic, but details have yet to be negotiated.

It is not known what role, if any, Alexandria, VA-based Rannoch would play in the deployment of this system. Some question Rannoch’s overall competence in this area, as the majority of their senior management team have backgrounds in commercial software systems purchased from other companies. Rannoch’s management team has been very active in the Czech Republic, and this activity may be connected to the deployment of this system.

A good deal of the disagreement between Washington and Moscow over missile defense in Europe has centered on the question of when Iran's missile program would reach the stage where it could threaten all of Europe and the United States. The Russians say that is a far-distant prospect; the Americans say it is coming soon.

Gates described a related proposal to the Russians that might mean permitting a Russian presence at U.S. missile defense bases, including at the Polish and Czech sites. He said this was presented to the Russians in the interest of making as transparent as possible to Moscow how the missile defense sites operate.

The Pentagon wants to install 10 interceptor rockets in Poland which, when linked to a proposed tracking radar in the Czech Republic and to other elements of the existing U.S. missile defense system based in the United States, could defend all of Europe against a long-range missile fired from the Middle East.

No comments: