Go to Home Page

Key Issues Missile Defense Issues 2000 US DoD Strategy Report

2000 United States Department of Defense Strategy Report for Europe and NATO Excerpt on Ballistic Missile Defenses
December 1, 2000

The US Department of Defense (DoD) Strategy Report for Europe and NATO was released on 1 December 2000. The report, entitled "Strengthening Transatlantic Security," outlines US plans to prepare itself and Allies, NATO states in particular, to meet challenges in the Translatlantic and

Printer Friendly

global communities in the 21st century. The document includes arguments for ballistic missile defenses as a means of protection from states of concern. The following is an excerpt from the report.

Theater Missile Defense

As part of broader efforts to enhance the security of the United States, Allied and coalition forces against ballistic missile strikes and to complement our counterproliferation strategy, the United States is pursuing opportunities for TMD cooperation with NATO Partners. The objectives of United States cooperative efforts are to provide effective missile defense for coalition forces in both Article 5 and non-Article 5 operations against short to medium range missiles. In its Strategic Concept, NATO reaffirmed the risk posed by the proliferation of NBC weapons and ballistic missiles, and the Alliance reached general agreement on the framework for addressing these threats. As part of NATO's DCI, Allies agreed to develop Alliance forces that can respond with active and passive defenses from NBC attack. Allies further agreed that TMD is necessary for NATO's deployed forces.

Several Allies currently field or will shortly acquire lower-tier TMD systems. For example, Germany and the Netherlands both field the PAC-2 missile and naval forces of several Allies are considering cooperation with the United States to field maritime missile defenses. An important development in the operational TMD area was the creation in December 1999 of a trilateral US-German-Dutch Extended Air Defense Task Force. The Alliance is undertaking a feasibility analysis for a layered defense architecture. As the ballistic missile threat to Europe evolves in the direction of longer ranges, the Alliance will need to consider further measures of defense incorporating upper-tier TMD and/or a defense against longer-range missiles.

National Missile Defense

Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea do not need long-range missiles to intimidate their neighbors; they already have shorter-range missiles to do so. Instead, they want long-range missiles to coerce and threaten more distant countries in North America and Europe. They presumably believe that even a small number of missiles, against which we have no defense, could be enough to inhibit US actions in support of our Allies or coalition partners in a crisis.

Based on our assessment of these trends, the United States has concluded that we must counter this threat before one of these states attempts to blackmail the United States from protecting its interests, including commitments to our Allies in Europe and elsewhere. Thus, the United States is developing a NMD system that would protect all 50 states from a limited attack of a few to a few tens of warheads.

NATO's Strategic Concept recognizes that "(t)he Alliance's defense posture against the risks and potential threats of the proliferation of (nuclear, biological, and chemical) weapons and their means of delivery must continue to be improved, including through work on missiles defenses." As the US NMD effort progresses, we need to continue close consultations with our Allies on relevant policy and technical issues.

Although Moscow argues to the contrary, the limited NMD system the United States is developing would not threaten the Russian strategic deterrent, which could overwhelm our defense even if Russian strategic forces were much lower than levels foreseen under existing US-Russian strategic arms reduction agreements. Moreover, the US proposal to modify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty include measures of cooperation and transparency that would give Russia confidence that the NMD system was not being expanded beyond its limited scale. China has a more modest nuclear force than Russia, but has a multi-faceted nuclear modernization program that predates NMD. Our NMD system is not designed to neutralize China's strategic capabilities. NMD is a complement to our policies of deterrence and prevention, not a substitute. We will continue to rely on diplomacy, arms control and traditional deterrence-the credible threat of an overwhelming and devastating response-to dissuade states of concern from attacking or coercing their neighbors or anyone else.17 But today, when a state of concern might attempt to coerce the United States or it Allies, it is not prudent to rely exclusively on deterrence by overwhelming response, especially when we have the option of a limited, but effective defense.

The NMD we envisage would reinforce the credibility of US security commitments and the credibility of NATO as a whole. Europe would not be more secure if the United States were less secure from a missile attack by a state of concern. An America that is less vulnerable to ballistic missile attack is more likely to defend Europe and common Western security interests than an America that is more vulnerable. As consultations proceed with our Allies on NMD, we realize that Allies will continue to consider the appropriate role of missile defenses in their respective national security strategies. In keeping with the fundamental principle of the Alliance that the security of its members is indivisible, the United States is open to discussing possible cooperation with Allies on longer-range ballistic missile defense, just as we have with our discussions and cooperation in the area of TMD. As President Clinton said in May 2000, "every country that is part of a responsible inter-national arms control and nonproliferation regime should have the benefit of this protection.

In September 2000, President Clinton announced that while NMD was sufficiently promising and affordable to justify continued development and testing, there was not sufficient information about the technical and operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system to move forward with deployment. In making this decision, he considered the threat, the cost, technical feasibility and the impact on our national security of proceeding with NMD. The President's decision will provide flexibility to a new administration and will preserve the option to deploy a national missile defense system in the 2006-2007 time frame.

17 Similarly, the independent British and French nuclear deterrents would not be undermined by the NMD capabilities allowed under the US proposal to modify the ABM Treaty. (Pgs. 53-55)