Iran Can't Be
'Swapped' for Halt to U.S. Missile Defense
the outset, the proposal seemed a meaningless and crude simplification of the
problem. The security interests of Russia require a comprehensive discussion
about the problems of a vast region comprising Iran, the Caspian, Central Asia,
Afghanistan and Iraq. In all of these situations, many of which affect the
interests of Moscow, the role of Iran is key."
By Military Commentator Ilya
Translated By Igor Medvedev
March 5, 2009
Russia - Novosti - Original Article (Russian)
MOSCOW: [In his letter to
Russian President Medvedev], Barack Obama made no attempt to offer Russia a
deal to exchange the deployment of a missile defense system in Europe for
Russian assistance on the "Iran issue." President Obama himself made
this clear at a press conference on Wednesday [March 4] after meeting with
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
So how was this "exchange"
or quid pro quo supposed to work? The media suggested that the United
States would "forget" about deploying interceptor missiles in Eastern
Europe if Russia formed a "united front with the U.S." in talks on
the Iranian nuclear and missile issue.
From the outset, the proposal
seemed a meaningless and crude simplification of the problem. The security
interests of Russia require a comprehensive discussion about the problems of a
vast region comprising Iran, the Caspian, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In all of these situations, many of which affect the interests of Moscow, the
role of Iran is key.
At the moment, Russian
support on the Iran issue is very important to the United States, because as it
gradually loses influence over the situation, America needs the support of a
country that commands authority in the Middle East. At the same time, it hardly
makes sense for Russia to give up its own authority. By directly supporting the
United States, Russia risks losing a significant portion of its own political capital,
which it has accrued over recent years in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Granted, these issues can and must be discussed. Not in terms of
"supporting" the U.S., but in terms of a new American policy in the
defense problem has no relation to Iran - and cannot be considered in isolation
from relations between Russia and the NATO countries. Plucking the
anti-ballistic missile issue from the shared question of European security is
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Persuading the U.S. not to
deploy elements of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe is not an
adequate substitute for talks on a European security system. Ultimately, the potential
deployment of American bases with first-strike weapons on the territory of new
NATO member states is no less a threat than the deployment of anti-ballistic
missile systems or the possible accession of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.
Finally, the issue of missile
defense is closely linked to the preservation the nuclear and missile parity
between the U.S. and Russia, which has recently been the subject of a lively
discussion in connection with news of a U.S. initiative to radically reduce nuclear
arsenals. An agreement between Russia and the United States on further reductions
of nuclear arms must include limits on the development of missile defense
systems - not only in Eastern Europe but throughout the world. Ideally, such a
deal should prohibit the development of strategic missile defense systems, leaving
only the possibility of establishing missile defense within the theater of
It should also be borne in
mind that under current conditions, the "value" of the missile
defense system as a bargaining chip has diminished significantly. In pre-crisis
times, the cost to the U.S. were significant but not
unimaginable - and the prospect of creating such a massive system at key points
in the world appeared quite realistic. But tomorrow, the U.S. may well be in a
situation in which it will have to renounce its missile defense system without negotiation
- and without disguising this fact with fine words about "additional
tests" and the "development of a more sophisticated system." In
fact, the real reason will be a simple lack of funds to pay for such a gigantic
project. These are facts that also have to be taken into account.
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That is why an "Iran-missile
defense deal" plucks two problems out of political and economic context and
To reiterate, the two issues
can and must be negotiated between Russia and the U.S. - but each within the
framework of a range of complex problems. Iran - as part of a range of issues
involving the Middle East and Central Asia; and missile defense as part of the
issues of European and global security. Looking at the situation objectively, an
agreement between the two countries is possible since both Russian and American
administrations have shown a willingness to talk, including on the key issues.
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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March 10, 8:49pm]