Prospects for U.S.-Russia Missile Defense Cooperation

Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
Remarks at the 11th Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) Missile Defence Conference
London, United Kingdom
May 27, 2010



Date: 05/27/2010 Description: Deputy Assistant Secretary Rose delivers remarks at the 11th Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) Missile Defence Conference. - State Dept Image

Thank you very much for that kind introduction, Michael.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher, it is a pleasure to join you today. RUSI has such an impressive history and this conference is an important part of the international dialogue on missile defense. I am particularly glad to see such an international audience. We have obviously been doing a lot of work on missile defense lately and we appreciate the opportunity to continue these discussions with you.

I’d like to focus my remarks on the prospects for missile defense cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation. More specifically, I want to discuss three points:

  • The threat posed by ballistic missile proliferation to U.S. deployed forces, allies, partners, and Russia;
  • Our efforts to work with Russia to promote understanding and cooperation on missile defense issues; and
  • And, at a strategic level, the U.S. goal to pursue with Russia a new approach to strategic stability that integrates both defensive and offensive capabilities.

Let me begin by providing some background for the new U.S. approach to missile defense. This new U.S. approach has been driven by growth in the regional ballistic missile threat and new technology opportunities offered by increasingly capable missile defense systems such as sea-based Aegis SM-3 interceptors and new forward-based sensors for detecting and tracking missiles. The overwhelming ballistic missile threat to U.S. deployed forces and our friends and allies comes from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. That said, states like North Korea and Iran also continue to pursue technologies to support long-range missile development, but there remains uncertainty about when a missile threat to the U.S. homeland will mature. Given these two key factors, the President’s missile defense program will focus greater attention on countering the current threat to U.S. forces, Allies, and partners while maintaining our ability to defend the homeland.

This new approach was crystallized in the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report or BMDR, released in February 2010. In particular, the BMDR says the Administration “has given a special emphasis to renewing cooperation with Russia on missile defense.”

This engagement strategy with Russia reflects the reality of our post-Cold War relationship. Russia is increasingly our partner in confronting issues like proliferation and other threats to regional and global peace and security, including Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the North Korean nuclear issue, and, most recently, North Korea’s role in the sinking of the Cheonan. We seek ways to expand that cooperation; in particular, we believe that true cooperation on missile defense will do two things: enhance Russia’s understanding about our capabilities and intentions, and provide meaningful security in response to the 21st century threats facing both our governments.




Current global trends indicate that ballistic missile systems are becoming more flexible, mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate, while also increasing in range. Russia’s geographic location puts it in proximity to two of the world’s most active proliferators of ballistic missiles: North Korea and Iran. Both of these countries are developing longer-range missiles, both have pursued illicit weapons programs in defiance of the international community, and both have a tendency to put on large-scale missile launch displays as a means to intimidate their neighbors.


North Korea has demonstrated its nuclear ambitions and continues to develop short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile capabilities. Shortly after the Obama Administration took office in 2009, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test, launched a Taepo Dong-2 (TD-2) missile which apparently failed, and conducted multiple ballistic missile launches. Assuming no major changes in its national security strategy over the next decade, the United States believes that North Korea will be able to mate a nuclear warhead to a proven delivery system.


Regarding Iran, its ballistic missile forces are increasing quantitatively and improving qualitatively. Numerous U.S. and NATO officials have expressed their concerns about this disturbing trend. Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, which a recent Pentagon report estimates at approximately 1000 missiles that range from 90-1200 miles, and continues to expand the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces. It has tested a two stage solid-propellant missile and placed a satellite into orbit using an indigenous launch vehicle.


On March 27 of this year, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen noted that the declared 2000 kilometer range of Iran’s modified Shahab-3 missiles [quote] “…will already put Allied countries such as Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria within reach.”


I would note that, not only can these same missiles strike NATO territory, but they can also reach parts of Russia.


Iran’s long-range ballistic missile development is also a concern. In February, Iran displayed its Simorgh space launch vehicle that would use a cluster of four engines in its first stage. In April, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the U.S. Senate that Iran could, “with sufficient foreign assistance, develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”


All of these developments must also be seen in light of Iran’s continuing defiance of the international community on its nuclear program, including what the IAEA has identified as the “possible military dimension” to its program. Many of these ballistic missiles are capable of carrying nuclear payloads.


North Korea and Iran are the most challenging of the ballistic missile threats facing the world community today. They continue these programs despite international efforts, including through UN Security Council Resolutions, to prevent them. However, they are not alone. The growth of regional threats today lies in the development, deployment, and proliferation of ballistic missiles and technologies, especially in short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles. Improvements in payloads, ranges, precision, and operational performance are evident as well. These disturbing trends reinforce the importance of building consensus with other governments about the effects of this proliferation on regional stability and security, and of the need for missile defense cooperation.




In an effort to promote understanding and cooperation on missile defense issues, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed at the July 2009 Moscow Summit to conduct joint assessments of missile challenges and threats, which we now refer to as the Joint Threat Assessment, or JTA, for short.


The objective of these talks has been, at a minimum, to share with one another our respective threat perspectives and, if possible, to come to agreement on the nature of the common threats that we face. Our Governments have held three JTA sessions, in July and December 2009, and again this month. Further sessions are anticipated.


From the U.S. side, we have found these discussions to be informative and helpful. We recognize that reasonable governments can analyze and assess threats in different ways. Our hope is that through the JTA discussions, Moscow will gain a deeper understanding of why the United States is pursuing both development and deployment of ballistic missile defense in Europe and other regions of the world, and in such a relatively shortened timeframe.


At the July 2009 Moscow Summit, our two Presidents also agreed to organize contacts between our two governments in a more structured and regular way. To do this they established the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. Under the auspices of that commission, the Arms Control and International Security Working Group was established, co-chaired by Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. This working group is responsible for, among other matters, missile defense cooperation.


Within this forum, the United States has offered a number of proposals for bilateral missile defense cooperation. Specific areas of potential cooperation include, among other things:


  • Joint research and development;
  • Joint missile defense testing;
  • Joint modeling and simulations;
  • Missile defense exercises; and
  • Joint analyses of alternative U.S.-Russian missile defense architectures for defending against common, regional threats.


These recent proposals build on earlier initiatives that involved sharing missile warning data and providing timely launch notifications between our two countries.


Additionally, Russia made a proposal in 2007, reiterated by President Medvedev in 2008, to share data from the early warning radars at Qabala in Azerbaijan, and at Armavir in southern Russia, to monitor Iranian flight tests. The United States remains interested in exploring this Russian proposal further.


All of these discussions and activities can, and should be, pursued. In this way, we believe pragmatic missile defense cooperation can be achieved in a timely fashion, and allow us to respond to the current threat.




For the United States, the goal of missile defense cooperation is to enlist Russia in a new structure of deterrence that addresses the emerging challenges that a small number of states seeking illicit capabilities pose to international peace and security. Moreover, the Administration seeks to develop a mutual understanding of a new approach to strategic stability that integrates both defensive and offensive capabilities. As noted in our recently released Nuclear Posture Review, the United States is working to reduce the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons. Missile defenses are a key aspect of strengthening our non-nuclear defense and deterrence capabilities.


Here is where the recently signed New START Treaty comes into consideration. This Treaty addresses offensive nuclear force reductions by setting aggregate limits of:


  • 1,550 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers;


  • 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles; and


  • 800 total deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers.


The Treaty allows Russia and the United States flexibility in determining how to deploy their strategic forces within the Treaty’s overall limits. The Treaty’s verification regime builds on lessons learned from 15 years of implementing START, including on-site inspections, data exchanges, and extensive notifications. The Treaty also protects our ability to develop and deploy a prompt global strike capability, should we opt to pursue it.


Most importantly for our discussion today, the New START Treaty preserves our ability to develop and deploy ballistic missile defenses, which are necessary for the defense of the United States and our allies against limited attack and as part of our collaborative approach to strengthening stability in key regions. As we emphasize repeatedly, U.S. missile defenses are in no way aimed at Russia, but rather they are designed and planned to counter -the growing ballistic missile threats from states like Iran and North Korea. U.S. missile defenses do not have the capability to defend against the sophisticated Russian deterrent, nor do we possess the sheer numbers of interceptors that would be required to counter Russian ICBM and SLBM forces. We will continue to provide Russia with transparency and predictability about U.S. missile defense policy, plans, and programs.


Taken together, we believe that this approach to strategic stability – nuclear force reductions in New START, a phased adaptive approach to missile defense that includes U.S.-Russian missile defense cooperation, transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs), and engagement on a wide range of activities – will facilitate the two nations’ commitment to deeper reductions in their nuclear arsenals and to improve the overall relationship.




We believe that the most effective way to eliminate Russia’s concerns regarding our European missile defense deployments is for the United States, NATO, and Russia to work together against common threats.


The United States strongly supports efforts to foster cooperation between NATO and Russia in the missile defense area, and we are working closely with our NATO allies and Russia to explore options to cooperate. Secretary of State Clinton noted this in her January 29th speech in Paris on the future of European security. She said, and I quote,


“We are engaged in productive discussions with our European allies about building a new missile defense architecture that will defend all of NATO territory against ballistic missile attack. And we are serious about exploring ways to cooperate with Russia to develop missile defenses that enhance the security of all of Europe, including Russia. Missile defense, we believe, will make this continent a safer place. That safety could extend to Russia, if Russia decides to cooperate with us. It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to work together to build our mutual security.”


At the 60th anniversary of NATO, held last spring in Strasbourg-Kehl, NATO leaders reaffirmed their support for increased missile defense cooperation with Russia and their readiness to explore the potential for linking U.S., NATO, and Russian missile defense systems. To paraphrase NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s remarks at the October 2009 Defense Ministerial in Bratislava, “this is good for the Alliance, it is good for solidarity, and it is important for the defense of Europe.”


In the coming months, the United States is committed to anchoring the Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense in a NATO context. At the NATO Summit in Lisbon this November, we look forward to an Alliance decision to adopt territorial missile defense as a NATO mission, and to expand NATO’s Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) command and control system from protection of deployed forces to include territorial missile defense.


We are committed to continuing cooperation with Russia in this sphere, and believe that NATO-Russia cooperation on missile defense should be built upon our successful record of cooperation on theater missile defense in the NATO-Russia Council. This includes a study launched in 2003 to assess possible levels of interoperability among NATO and Russian TMD systems, three command post exercises held from 2004-2006, and a computer-assisted exercise in 2008. By building upon this track record and adding the progress we've made in 2010 through the NATO-Russia Joint Review of 21st century threats, we hope to work with Russia so that they are ready to engage in substantial, substantive missile defense cooperation with NATO.




Let me conclude with a couple of points.

As the United States continues to deploy missile defenses, we will continue to engage Russia, in an open and transparent manner, about our missile defense plans.

As the relationship between our two nations becomes stronger, we hope that Russia will recognize that U.S. missile defense plans are focused on threats from regional actors such as North Korea and Iran and are not a threat to Russia’s security.

The door to tangible, mutually beneficial missile defense cooperation with the United States, and potentially with NATO, is wide open.

We look forward to continuing our discussions with Russia and to finding ways to cooperate and mutually protect our nations’ national security interests.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I look forward to any questions that you might have.