Remarks at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Missile Defense Conference

Frank A. Rose
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
London, United Kingdom
April 12, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. It is great to be back in this wonderful city.

I first attended this RUSI conference as the representative from the State Department in 2010, and when I think back to those early days of the Obama Administration, it is striking to me how much has been accomplished. It was September of 2009 when President Obama announced his plan for strengthening missile defense in Europe, which became known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, or EPAA. As with the unveiling of anything new, there were lots of questions about what the plan was and what it would do. So I’d like to focus my remarks today on what we have done and where we are going with our missile defense deployments.

Let me first start by highlighting the significant progress we have made with our NATO Allies in developing NATO BMD, and in particular our efforts to implement EPAA.

As you are aware, NATO’s BMD capability is being developed and scaled in response to the proliferation of ballistic missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, mainly on its South-Eastern flank. NATO’s BMD goals are consistent with this aim. The U.S. contribution to this system is known as EPAA. This is a purely defensive system that is in full compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Missile defense is an integral part of the Alliance’s overall defense posture and one pillar of NATO’s deterrence strategy. NATO Allies are united as they implement NATO BMD through a common C2 structure, and many from across the Alliance are seeking ways to contribute and burden-share. This NATO capability will be used with NAC-agreed command and control procedures, under the control of the North Atlantic Council.

Starting in 2011 with Phase 1, we deployed a missile defense radar in Turkey and began the sustained deployment of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense-capable ships in the Mediterranean. Additionally, we have been working with Spain and just last September forward deployed the fourth and final U.S. Aegis BMD-capable ship at the naval facility in Rota, which will allow us to increase our rotational presence in the region and respond to potential crises more rapidly.

As part of Phase 2 of the EPAA, we completed the deployment of the Aegis Ashore site in Romania in December of last year. I give tremendous credit to my Missile Defense Agency and Romanian colleagues. They were able to take the site from concept to operationally deployed in six years while staying on time and on budget. Combined with BMD-capable ships in the Mediterranean, the site provides a significant enhancement to coverage of NATO from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles from threats originating outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

Finally, Phase 3 will involve the construction of an Aegis Ashore site in Poland equipped with the new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. In February, the Missile Defense Agency awarded the construction contract for this site. President Obama’s FY17 budget request designates approximately $127 million for the acquisition of the Aegis Ashore system in FY 17 and FY 18. Construction will begin this spring, enabling us to remain on schedule to complete this site in the 2018 timeframe. The Phase 3 site in Poland, when combined with other EPAA assets, will provide ballistic missile defense coverage of all NATO European territory, populations and forces from threats originating outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

I would like to highlight and applaud the efforts of our NATO Allies in developing and deploying their own national contributions for missile defense. A great example is the decision by the United Kingdom, announced earlier this year as part of their Strategic Defense and Security Review, that they would invest in a ground-based radar and continue their efforts to investigate the potential for their Type 45 destroyers to operate in a BMD role. Frequently, my Missile Defense Agency colleagues point out the important contribution that comes from having additional sensors for the BMD mission, just look at all the money the United States is spending on the new Long-Range Discrimination Radar. This important contribution demonstrates that ballistic missile defense doesn’t have to be about having an intercept capability.

Several other Allies have already made contributions, or are in the process of developing or acquiring BMD assets, such as upgraded ships with ballistic missile-defense-capable radars, ground-based air and missile defense systems, and advanced detection and alert capabilities. Finally, several allies—including Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Spain—have provided essential basing support.

I’d also like to address the long-standing question of Russia and NATO missile defense. NATO has been clear since 2010 that the system NATO is building in Europe is not designed for, or capable of, undermining Russia’s strategic deterrent capabilities. NATO has explained this to Russia many times over the years. It is also regrettable that Russia did not respond positively to the many offers to cooperate on missile defense. It was Russia that terminated unilaterally a cooperative dialogue with NATO in 2013.

Finally, I’d like to reinforce the point Bob Bell made in his remarks: the United States firmly believes that, assuming success in the STEADFAST ALLIANCE 2016 exercise at Ramstein later this month, the significant progress made by NATO Allies in developing the necessary NATO C2 systems to effectively command and control the additional NATO BMD forces that have been deployed since the Interim NATO BMD Capability (InCa) was declared at Chicago in 2012 fully warrants the Alliance’s declaring BMD IOC at the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw.

The Summit also will provide an important opportunity for the Alliance to re-commit to the political framework of NATO BMD agreed to at the Lisbon Summit – that NATO missile defense is not directed at Russia and that its aim is to enhance the defense and security of the Alliance as a part of the appropriate mix of capabilities necessary for deterrence and defense. For its part, the United States remains committed to implementing EPAA as its voluntary national contribution to NATO BMD.

Beyond Europe, the United States also has deployed missile defense assets to defend our forces, allies, and partners in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions. We deployed Patriot PAC-3 systems and Aegis BMD ships to both regions so as to address the threat from Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles. We have also deployed AN/TPY-2 radars to Israel and Japan to provide early warning of any missile threats.

Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, which continues to be a source of concern to both the United States and the international community. We will continue to take actions to counter Iran’s ballistic missile program—including through regional security initiatives with our partners, missile defense initiatives, sanctions, export controls, and the 34-country Missile Technology Control Regime.

In the Gulf, we are also already cooperating bilaterally and multilaterally with our key partners through the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (or GCC) ballistic missile defense working group, which was set up after the 2015 U.S.-GCC Summit at Camp David to show U.S. commitment to Gulf security. Our partners in the region are acquiring tremendous interoperable BMD capabilities that complement and supplement U.S. systems.

For example, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contracted to buy two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (or THAAD) batteries, and has taken delivery of its Patriot PAC-3 batteries, which provide a lower-tier point defense of critical national assets. We also strengthened this cooperation when we met in Washington, DC last April for the first ever U.S.-GCC Ballistic Missile Defense Seminar.

At last May’s U.S.-GCC meetings at Camp David hosted by President Obama, the United States and GCC member states committed to a number of initiatives aimed at developing a region-wide BMD capability, including through the development of a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. The United States committed to help conduct a study of GCC ballistic missile defense architecture, and offered technical assistance in the development of a GCC-wide Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. Finally, the group agreed to develop an enhanced understanding of how cooperation would look through a senior leader tabletop exercise to examine improved regional ballistic missile defense cooperation.

Additionally, and separately, the United States maintains a strong defense relationship with Israel, and our cooperation on missile defense has resulted in a comprehensive missile defense architecture for Israel. The United States supports Israeli programs such as Iron Dome, and works with the Israelis in co-developing the David’s Sling and the Arrow III weapon systems, creating a multilayered architecture designed to protect the Israeli people from varying types of missile threats.

In the Asia-Pacific, we are continuing missile defense cooperation through our bilateral alliances and key partnerships. The United States and Japan are working closely together to develop the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which will make a key contribution to the EPAA, as well as ship-based deployments in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere around the world. On December 8 of last year, we successfully completed a flight test of this new interceptor. We also deployed in 2014 a second AN/TPY-2 radar to Japan, which will enhance the defense of both the United States and Japan.

We regularly engage with Japan on missile defense issues, including at our bilateral Extended Deterrence Dialogues. And we are strengthening interoperability and cooperation between U.S. and Japanese forces, which will be aided by the updated U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines and Japan's reinterpretation of its constitution to permit the exercise of its right to collective self-defense. The inclusion of missile defense in these guidelines reflects the valuable contribution of BMD.

We also work closely with the Republic of Korea on missile defense issues. In response to the evolving threat from North Korea, including its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, we made an Alliance decision in February to begin formal consultations on the viability of basing a THAAD system in the ROK. This system would provide an essential defensive capability against North Korea’s extended-range SCUD and No Dong missiles. The goal of the formal consultations is to bilaterally pursue the feasibility of deploying THAAD to and operating on the Korean Peninsula at the earliest possible date.

China has expressed concern that the potential deployment of THAAD to the ROK represents a threat to its strategic nuclear deterrent. However, as the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review states, U.S. homeland missile defenses are not designed to negate China’s strategic deterrent. Contrary to China’s claims, neither the THAAD interceptor nor the THAAD radar will do that. If THAAD is deployed to the ROK, it would be focused solely on North Korea and contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the U.S.-ROK Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean ballistic missile threats.

Finally, let me say a few words about U.S. missile defense and Russia.

As is the case with China, the Ballistic Missile Defense Review is quite clear on our policy: U.S. missile defense is neither designed nor directed against Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent. However, at the same time, we have also made it clear that we cannot and will not accept legally-binding or other constraints that would hinder our ability to defend the United States, our allies, and our partners. The guarantees Russia has demanded would significantly limit our missile defenses and undermine our ability to stay ahead of the ballistic missile threat. North Korea and Iran’s repeated ballistic missile launches and the overall evolving threat from these countries dictates that we must be able to keep up with their evolving technology. The fact that these programs continue to advance in spite of United Nations Resolutions and international pressure, are a convincing reminder of why the United States will continue to insist on having the flexibility to respond effectively.

With that, I would like to thank you again for the opportunity today, and I look forward to your questions.