Transatlantic Missile Defense: Looking to the NATO Lisbon Summit

Ellen Tauscher
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
Remarks at the Atlantic Council
Washington, DC
October 12, 2010

[As prepared for delivery]

General Scowcroft, thank you so much for that introduction. Fred, thank you for your leadership on this issue. Let me also express my great appreciation for the work of my friends at the Atlantic Council, especially Fred, Brent, and Senator Hagel, and everyone else both here and abroad who works to promote transatlantic cooperation. I’m glad to be back for a second year in a row.

A lot has changed since I spoke at last year’s Atlantic Council missile defense conference.

At that time, the Obama administration had just announced our European missile defense plans, but had yet to take any of the concrete steps that President Obama had set forth in his Prague speech last year.

The President’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons might seem starry-eyed to some, but I can assure you that our feet are planted firmly on the ground. If you recall, the President said that we might not reach that goal in his lifetime, but he called on us to work patiently and persistently toward that goal. We are taking a step-by-step approach, and each step contributes to our pragmatic and comprehensive approach to reducing global nuclear dangers / and missile threats.

Today, we are on the verge of getting the New START Treaty approved in the Senate and I want to thank Senator Hagel and Brent for their support. The Treaty will re-establish effective monitoring and inspections of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces while also imposing lower limits on those forces. And I might as well add this now as a pre-buttal, the New START Treaty does not constrain our ability to field the most effective missile defenses possible.

Beyond the New START Treaty, we released a new Nuclear Posture Review that reduces the role of our nuclear weapons while reaffirming our commitment to maintain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent so long as nuclear weapons exist.

And our budget increases for the nuclear complex and weapons systems demonstrate our seriousness with respect to modernization.

The President hosted a successful Nuclear Security Summit, boosting efforts globally to secure and eliminate vulnerable nuclear material. For the first time in 10 years, we reached consensus this past May at the review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That was a vital and timely outcome to shore up the centerpiece of the global nonproliferation regime.

And, in February 2010, we released our Ballistic Missile Defense Review. This review put our previously announced European Phased Adaptive Approach in a broader framework and helped rebut incorrect and inaccurate accusations that we were shelving missile defense plans for Europe and abandoning central Europe.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

President Obama’s missile defense decisions have significantly improved our ability to protect the United States, our European NATO Allies, and our forward deployed troops from ballistic missile threats.

So, as I speak to you today, we have had a year to implement this new approach. I know General O’Reilly gave a briefing on the technical details of the European Phased Adaptive Approach. Let me spend a few minutes focusing on the reaction of our NATO allies and explaining the progress we have made over the past year.

First, our NATO allies have overwhelmingly embraced this approach because the new architecture can provide coverage for all of our European Allies. It also focuses on addressing the existing threats in a prioritized manner, something that both NATO and the United States Congress have repeatedly urged. First and foremost, we will protect our most vulnerable Allies from the existing short- and medium-range ballistic missile threats from Iran. And we will expand coverage to counter the threat as it evolves.

This brings me to my second point. We have sought to put this new approach squarely in a NATO context. We want there to be political buy-in by our NATO Allies on this issue. We will do this by seeking Allied agreement at the Lisbon Summit to pursue a missile defense capability for our European Allies’ territory, populations, and forces.

The European Phased Adaptive Approach will then become the U.S. contribution to a NATO effort. This new approach also creates more opportunities for cooperation and burden sharing among our NATO Allies. We will seek to expand NATO’s ALTBMD command and control system to provide it with the capability to support territorial missile defense. This will allow the United States and our NATO Allies to plug their missile defense assets into the overall NATO missile defense capability should our Allies choose to do so, and we are certainly encouraging that.

We have received high level support for our efforts from throughout the Alliance, including from Secretary General Rasmussen and from Madeline Albright’s Group of Experts. Support is evident in the Ministerial communiqués as well. And we hope to get more support at the Joint Ministerial meeting this week.

Beyond the benefits for our NATO Allies, this approach also strengthens our ability to defend the United States. Deploying the AN/TPY-2 radar in the first phase of the approach will augment the ability of our existing Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to intercept any future long-range missiles launched from the Middle East. By 2020, we will supplement that capability when we deploy the SM-3 Block 2-B missile in Europe.

Finally, this approach benefits our security through the deployment of proven missile defense assets. MDA’s thorough test plan will ensure that the systems we deploy in Europe are operationally effective before we deploy them – another fact that has been well-received by our European partners.

Now, let me turn to the progress we have made over the past year.

For Phase 1, we seek to deploy a forward-based radar close to the threat. We have briefed Allies on our plan and held bilateral discussions about hosting the radar. Following the NATO Joint Ministerial and Summit meetings, we hope to be able to move forward on discussing basing agreements for the radar with appropriate Allies.

Meanwhile, Romania agreed to host the Phase 2 Land-Based SM-3 interceptor site, and we have held three rounds of negotiations on a basing agreement since June. We are making good progress on this agreement, building on the excellent history of cooperation we have with Romania and the existing Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement.

Finally, last October, Poland agreed to host the Phase 3 SM-3 interceptor site. Since then, we have ratified a Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement and signed a protocol amending the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement to allow for the deployment of the SM-3 interceptor site in Poland. The next step to bring this agreement into force is Polish ratification.

These activities have put us on track to have all the necessary agreements in place to support the deployment of assets under the European Phased Adaptive Approach for the first three phases.

Finally, let me also touch briefly on Russia. We did not design this plan in response to Russian concerns about our missile defenses. There were no “secret deals” as part of the negotiations on the New START Treaty.

I’ve said it earlier and I’ll say it again. This plan is simply better for the defense of our European Allies and the United States. The New START Treaty will not prevent us from implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach. The New START Treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible. And it does not add any additional cost or inconvenience to our missile defense plans.

We are also committed to being transparent about our missile defense plans with Russia and offer the reassurance that our missile defense deployments are not a threat to Russia’s strategic forces.

We have begun cooperating on missile defense activities with Russia and we hope to expand that cooperation both bilaterally and through the NATO-Russia Council.

As we look to Lisbon and beyond, I think it is clear that we have made excellent progress in the implementation of a system that provides for better security for our European Allies and better confidence in our intentions. And in the coming months and years, I look forward to continuing to work with all of our friends and partners, including the Atlantic Council, and discussing how we can best work together to counter the ballistic missile threat through both missile defense and our arms control and nonproliferation efforts.

Thank you and I would be happy to answer a few questions.