Category Archives: Missile Defense

Trump Hypes Missile Defense Systems Targeting Iran and North Korea

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Missile DefenseWithin mere minutes of his inauguration, President Trump’s White House website laid out a series of new policy positions, including a promise to develop a “state-of-the-art” missile defense system to protect against both Iran and North Korea.

The statement was prominently positioned, underscoring it as a point of emphasis for the new administration, but provided no details on what the announcement actually means, and indeed whether or not it marks any change from the existing missile defense systems the US has been throwing money at over the years.

The US started bankrolling anti-Iran missile defense systems way back in the Bush Administration’s waning years, a sore subject in US-Russia relations because Bush was positioning them all right along the Russian frontier, and far outside the range of Iran’s best missiles. In more recent years, the US has been scrambling to get a system in place in South Korea targeting their neighbor to the north as well.

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NATO Takes Over US-Built Missile Shield, Amid Russian Suspicion

Yeganeh Torbati and Robin Emmott report for Reuters:

NATO took command of a U.S.-built missile shield in Europe on Friday after France won assurances that the multi-billion-dollar system would not be under Washington’s direct control.

The missile shield, billed as a defense against any strike by a “rogue state” against European cities, is one of the most sensitive aspects of U.S. military support for Europe. Russia says the system is in fact intended by Washington to blunt its nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. denies.

“Today we have decided to declare initial operational capability of the NATO ballistic missile defense system,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

“This means that the U.S. ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and control,” he said, adding that the umbrella was “entirely defensive” and “represents no threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent”.

Russia is incensed at the show of force by the United States, its Cold War rival in ex-communist-ruled eastern Europe.

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U.S. Politicians Use North Korea H-Bomb Fears to Pitch Wasteful Missile Defense Projects

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Republican politicians responded almost reflexively to the North Korean nuclear test on Tuesday by demanding more spending on missile defense programs that have historically proved ineffective at preventing an enemy strike — but are built by companies that have lavished policymakers with campaign cash and political support.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a statement calling for the country to “reinvest in missile defense and our military presence in the Pacific.” Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called for Obama to “dramatically enhance trilateral missile defense” and declared that Obama should deploy a Lockheed Martin missile defense system in South Korea. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are among his top donors. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Tex., issued a statement specifically calling for spending on that same program; Lockheed Martin is by far his biggest donor over the course of his congressional career.

Since the early 1990s, politicians of both parties have cited the threat of North Korea to demand funding for an array of missile defense programs that quickly became monumental examples of government waste. Meanwhile, the contractors involved in these projects, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, among others, have manipulated the politics around these programs by funding politicians, pundits, think tanks, and lobbyists behind the never-ending spiral of taxpayer spending.

More than $50 billion has been spent on ineffective missile defense programs so far — the result of efforts that often began by citing the threat of states such as North Korea.

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The Pentagon’s $10-billion bet gone bad

David Willman reports for the Los Angeles Times:

Leaders of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency were effusive about the new technology.

It was the most powerful radar of its kind in the world, they told Congress. So powerful it could detect a baseball over San Francisco from the other side of the country.

If North Korea launched a sneak attack, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar — SBX for short — would spot the incoming missiles, track them through space and guide U.S. rocket-interceptors to destroy them.

Crucially, the system would be able to distinguish between actual missiles and decoys.

SBX “represents a capability that is unmatched,” the director of the Missile Defense Agency told a Senate subcommittee in 2007.

In reality, the giant floating radar has been a $2.2-billion flop, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.’

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New US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Takes Revolving Door to Higher Level

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) reported last month:

‘[…] Several reports have mentioned Carter’s work as a consultant to the defense industry between stints as a full-time official at the Department of Defense (DoD). But the Project On Government Oversight has found that Carter’s role, like that of many other members of Washington’s defense policy establishment, went deeper. While working in the private sector, he has held plum positions on government advisory boards that called for reforms with potential ramifications for his defense industry clients and other companies that receive DoD dollars.

Carter is hardly alone. Federal ethics laws allow scores of advisers at the Pentagon and other agencies to serve in these influential positions while keeping close ties to big businesses overseen by the government. Carter’s nomination [which has since been confirmed] serves to illustrate how the government allows members of the policy establishment to straddle both sides, and how it’s become a fixture of the military-industrial-congressional complex.’

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U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in Japan

Brendan McGarry reports for DoD Buzz:

U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in JapanThe U.S. is bolstering its ability to intercept ballistic missiles fired from North Korea with the deployment of another missile-defense radar in central Japan.

In a joint announcement on Friday, the U.S. and Japanese governments said a second so-called Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN/TPY-2, made by Raytheon Co. has been installed on the island nation.

The announcement follows discussions last year between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe involving deployment of the technology that drew opposition from China.’

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NATO Considers Missle Defense Shield Directed Against Russia

Spiegel reports:

‘NATO officials are considering deploying a long-planned missile defense system — aimed at protecting Europe from attacks from the Middle East — against Russia as well, SPIEGEL has learned.

Calls for such an expansion to the system’s remit, which is backed by the United States, are growing in Poland as well as in NATO member states Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In the run-up to next week’s NATO summit, the four countries called for the remaining members to agree on language at the summit that would pave the way for the plan. They feel threatened by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

But the majority of NATO members, especially Germany, are opposed to the proposal, warning that it could result in an unnecessary provocation of Moscow. Representatives of these countries have warned that NATO has for years pledged to Russia that the missile defense system would not be directed at the country. Further debate on the issue has since been delayed until after the summit.’

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Legislating the Way to World War 3? The U.S. Senate’s “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014”

Eric Draitser writes for New Eastern Outlook:

234234‘The US Congress is doing its part to escalate the tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a host of other issues. In so doing, the legislative and executive branches of the US Government work hand in glove to further the US-NATO agenda in Eastern Europe. The bill, propagandistically titled the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014,” (S.2277) was proposed by right wing Republican Senator Bob Corker, and has been cosponsored by a significant number of prominent Republicans in the Senate. While Democrats have yet to cosponsor the bill, they are almost without exception behind President Obama and his aggressive policy towards Russia and Ukraine. Indeed, this bill, though obviously partisan in its political character, represents the consensus within the US political establishment – a consensus that presumes US aggression in Eastern Europe to be defensive in the face of Putin’s “expansionism” and “imperial ambitions.”

It goes without saying that such a distorted world-view is par for the course in Washington, where upside-down logic is the predominant way of thinking about the world. However, the proposed legislation is less a response to perceived aggression from Moscow, and more of an attempt to capitalize on the crisis in Ukraine, using it as a convenient pretext for the expansion of NATO, continued militarization of Eastern Europe, promotion of corporate oil and gas interests, and much more. Essentially, the bill provides a blueprint for US intentions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for the coming years. Moreover, it reflects the greatest concern of all for Washington and its NATO allies: the loss of hegemony in the post-Soviet space. Seen in this way, S.2277 is not truly about punitive measures to punish Russia for its “aggression,” but rather is about pre-emptively attacking Russia politically and economically, while building up to a possible military confrontation. Needless to say, such dangerous and destabilizing actions are a reflection of the moral bankruptcy, not to mention utter insanity, of the US political establishment and the ruling class it serves.’

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$40-billion missile defense system proves unreliable

David Willman writes for the L.A. Times:

‘[…] The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran. But a decade after it was declared operational, and after $40 billion in spending, the missile shield cannot be relied on, even in carefully scripted tests that are much less challenging than an actual attack would be, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found. The Missile Defense Agency has conducted 16 tests of the system’s ability to intercept a mock enemy warhead. It has failed in eight of them, government records show.

Despite years of tinkering and vows to fix technical shortcomings, the system’s performance has gotten worse, not better, since testing began in 1999. Of the eight tests held since GMD became operational in 2004, five have been failures. The last successful intercept was on Dec. 5, 2008. Another test is planned at Vandenberg, on the Santa Barbara County coast, later this month. The GMD system was rushed into the field after President George W. Bush, in 2002, ordered a crash effort to deploy “an initial set of missile defense capabilities.” The hurried deployment has compromised its effectiveness in myriad ways.’

READ MORE @ THE L.A. TIMES…

The First Strike Game: Are You Ready for Nuclear War?

Paul Craig Roberts writes for CounterPunch:

‘Pay close attention to Steven Starr’s guest column, “The Lethality of Nuclear Weapons.”    Washington thinks nuclear war can be won and is planning for a first strike on Russia, and perhaps China, in order to prevent any challenge to Washington’s world hegemony.

The plan is far advanced, and the implementation of the plan is underway. As I have reported previously, US strategic doctrine was changed and the role of nuclear missiles was elevated from a retaliatory role to an offensive first strike role.  US anti-ballistic missile (ABM) bases have been established in Poland on Russia’s frontier, and other bases are planned.  When completed Russia will be ringed with US missile bases.

Anti-ballistic missiles, known as “star wars,” are weapons designed to intercept and destroy ICBMs.  In Washington’s war doctrine, the US hits Russia with a first strike, and whatever retaliatory force Russia might have remaining is prevented from reaching the US by the shield of ABMs.’

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Putin says annexation of Crimea a reaction to NATO expansion, US missile defence plans

From Reuters:

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russia had been forced to respond to NATO enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, was partly influenced by the Western military alliance’s expansion into eastern Europe. Putin said Moscow will respond if the United States moves ahead with plans to base elements of a missile defence shield in eastern Europe, accusing Washington of fuelling a Cold War-style arms race.

“When the infrastructure of a military bloc is moving toward our borders, it causes us some concerns and questions. We need to take some steps in response,” Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation. “Our decision on Crimea was partly due to … considerations that if we do nothing, then at some point, guided by the same principles, NATO will drag Ukraine in and they will say: ‘It doesn’t have anything to do with you.'”

Putin accused the military bloc of 28 nations of seeking to squeeze Russia out of its historic stomping ground in the Black Sea region, where Russian warships are based in the Tsarist-era city of Sevastopol. “NATO ships would have ended up in the city of Russian navy glory, Sevastopol,” Putin said.

Putin said Moscow wants to continue talks with Washington over its objections to U.S. missile defence plans, but would take all steps necessary to ensure its security.

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John Pilger: From China to Ukraine, the US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass

John Pilger writes for The Guardian:

Men wearing military fatigues in the eastern Ukrainian city of KramatorskI watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ “King” Kong goes “toe to toe with the Rooskies” and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it’s left to General “Buck” Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and “you got no more than 10-20 million killed, tops”. President Merkin Muffley: “I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.” General Turgidson: “Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with your image in the history books.”

The genius of Stanley Kubrick’s film is that it accurately represents the cold war’s lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant, yet the dangers are the same. The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same “invisible government”, as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.

In 1964, the year Dr Strangelove was made, “the missile gap” was the false flag. To build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, President John F Kennedy approved the CIA’s propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This filled front pages as the “Russian threat”. In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in production of the missiles, the Russians never approached them. The cold war was based largely on this lie.

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Time to Disband NATO: How Should the US Relate to the Rest of the World?

Alice Slater writes for Counter Punch:

With 16,000 of the world’s 17,000 nuclear bombs in the US and Russia, the US should certainly not be fanning the fires for a new cold war after the distressing events in Crimea and the Ukraine.   Rather, we should acknowledge our broken promise to Gorbachev that we wouldn’t expand NATO if Russia didn’t object to a reunified Germany’s entry into NATO when the wall came down, and promise not to invite the Ukraine or Georgia to become members of our old Cold War military alliance.   We should be disbanding NATO and working for reform of the UN system so that it can fulfill its peacekeeping mission without archaic reliance on regional military competitive alliances.

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Poland calls for larger U.S. military presence in eastern Europe

From Reuters:

The U.S. should increase its military presence in Poland and in other NATO members in central and eastern Europe in light of the Ukraine crisis, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said on Saturday.

Siemoniak said Washington was open towards the idea but detailed talks were yet to begin.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland last Tuesday and confirmed plans to deploy elements of a U.S. missile shield in Poland by 2018 and met with the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski.

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The Flaw in ‘Cornering’ Russia

Melvin A. Goodman writes for Consortium News:

U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan who is credited with devising the strategy of deterrence against the Soviet Union after World War II.Twenty years ago, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union marked a virtual end to the long-standing military and ideological threat that Moscow represented to the United States. Yet, instead of “anchoring” Russia to the political and economic architecture of the Western alliance system, which George F. Kennan’s “containment doctrine” endorsed, successive U.S. administrations have not only kept the Kremlin at arm’s length but have drawn the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) closer to Russia itself. This is central to the current crisis over Crimea.

In expanding NATO, the United States has been guilty of betraying a guarantee that Secretary of State James Baker gave to Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in 1990, when the United States stated that it would not “leapfrog” over East Germany to place U.S. military forces in East Europe in the wake of the Soviet military withdrawal from Germany. The administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush ignored that commitment when the United States sponsored the entry of eight former Warsaw Pact members as well as three former Soviet Republics into NATO. The Obama administration, meanwhile, appears ignorant of the geopolitical context of its foreign policies, which have not taken this betrayal into account in the Crimean crisis.

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Kiev dismisses reports of Ukraine-U.S. missile defense talks

From Xinhuanet:

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has dismissed reports Kiev is allegedly in talks with the United States over a possible deployment of missile defense systems in Ukraine. “There are no negotiations on this issue and there’s not even a hint of them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Eugene Perebiynis was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying Wednesday. Perebiynis said Kiev and Washington were in talks on possible financial aid to Ukraine, with no strings attached. Earlier in the day, local media, citing Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus Mykhailo Yezhel, reported missile systems were on the table as part of the aid talks. Yezhel served as Ukrainian Defense Minister from 2010 to 2012 under the leadership of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Russia says it would retaliate for US sanctions over Ukraine

From Reuters:

Russia said on Tuesday that it would retaliate if the United States imposed sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. “We will have to respond,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. “As always in such situations, provoked by rash and irresponsible actions by Washington, we stress: This is not our choice.”

US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine is not a sign of Russian strength but rather a reflection of the deep concern Russia’s neighbors have about Moscow’s meddling. In remarks to reporters, Obama ridiculed Putin’s justification for any Russian military action in the Crimearegion of southern Ukraine.

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Pentagon to boost missile defense spending by over $4 billion: sources

From Reuters:

The U.S. Defense Department plans to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in extra missile defense funding over the next five years as part of the fiscal 2015 budget request, say congressional sources and an expert. Nearly $1 billion of that sum will pay for a new homeland defense radar to be placed in Alaska, with an additional $560 million to fund work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests, said Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, and two of the congressional sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Pentagon’s request for added funding comes despite continued pressure on military spending and cuts in other arms programs, a sign of Washington’s growing concern about missile development efforts by North Korea and Iran, the sources said. The White House plans to send its fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress on March 4.

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Russia Plans Rail-Mounted Missiles to Counter US Global Strike Program

Rail-mounted nuclear missile

Photo: Strategic Missile Forces press service

From RIA Novosti:

Russia will draft a plan in the coming year to deploy rail-mounted nuclear missiles as a potential response to the United States’ Prompt Global Strike program, the commander of its Strategic Missile Force said on Wednesday.

“A Defense Ministry report has been submitted to the president and the order has been given to develop a preliminary design of a rail-mounted missile system,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakaev said.

The work will be carried out by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology – the developer of the submarine-launched Bulava nuclear missile – in the first half of next year.

Karakaev added that defense officials, after analyzing the American system, concluded “there is a need to reconsider the issue of a rail-mounted missile system given its increased survivability and the extent of our railway network.”

The rail weapons plan appears to be a response to a US program known as Prompt Global Strike that includes development of long-range missiles with conventional explosives in place of nuclear warheads. The United States says the program would increase the options available in responding to high-priority threats around the globe. A high-speed, high-altitude drone has also been considered as part of the program.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, a week ago called the program “the most important new strategy being developed by the United States today” and warned that American leaders “must bear in mind, that if we are attacked, in certain circumstances we will of course respond with nuclear weapons.”

Rogozin has recently championed Russian efforts to develop hypersonic air-launched weapons as a counterpart to similar US developments likely to be part of Prompt Global Strike.

The US abandoned plans for a rapid global strike capability under President George W. Bush over concerns that the weapons risked triggering an accidental nuclear war.

Unlike silo-based nuclear missiles, the location of rail-mounted missiles can be kept hidden and camouflaged amidst commercial rail traffic. The last of the Soviet-era SS-24 Scalpel rail-based nuclear missiles was decommissioned in 2005.

Russia insists that long-range missiles with conventional warheads must count towards the quota of nuclear delivery systems imposed by the New START treaty signed by Russia and the United States in 2011.

New START does not prohibit the development of rail-based missiles.

Stephen Cohen: Nobody thinks US/NATO missile defense could actually protect you