Darts on Missile Defense Story
Journalist Jim Wolfe’s April 15th Reuters item titled “US plans full European missile shield in 8 years” fails to tell the whole story of recent testimony by Obama officials before Congress.
The article reported:
Bradley Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, said in reply to a question at a hearing of a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee Thursday….the Obama administration was putting ‘proven’ sea-based and land-based missile shields into Europe as quickly as possible as part of a revised shield announced last September to any Iranian ballistic-missile strike.
That statement is patently false. The European Missile Defense proposed by the Bush administration would have used a two-stage variant of a three-stage missile already tested and deployed at sites in California and Alaska. In contrast, the Obama system will require developing newer versions of the SM-3 missile. Components of the system have not even built yet—they are hardly proven. In addition, since President Obama has rejected the “spiral development” program that was used to speed ballistic missile programs, the administration’s timelines may be overly optimistic.
Neither Roberts nor the article mentioned the President’s other criteria that systems be “cost-effective.” Authoritative studies, including one conduced by the government-sponsored Institute for Defense Analyses concluded that land-based interceptors were cost-effective.
Roberts’ statement that the Obama system would cover “100 percent” of Europe, where the land-based site proposed under President Bush would have covered “only 75 percent” is also misleading. The Bush plan also envisioned covering100 percent of Europe using both the land-based interceptors plus other systems including the sea-based Aegis, THAAD, and Patriot. In addition, the Bush administration had already started examining the feasibility of land-based mobile version of the SM-3 missile used by Aegis. Thus, all the Obama administration did was cut part of the missile defense umbrella—not add to it.
Finally, neither Roberts nor the article point out that even under the most conservative timelines Iran could have both a missile and a nuclear weapon by 2018. If there are any delays in US deployments then both Europe and the US will be at risk. Under Bush the land-based missile interceptors would have been deployed in 2013.