Long-Range Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Successive U.S. governments have urged the creation of an anti-missile system to protect against
long-range ballistic missile threats from adversary states. The Bush Administration believed that
North Korea and Iran represent strategic threats, and questioned whether they could be deterred
by conventional means. The Bush Administration’s position on this issue remained unchanged,
even after the intelligence community assessed that the Iranian nuclear weapons program halted
in 2003. The Bush Administration built long-range missile defense bases in Alaska and California
to protect against adversary missile threats, especially North Korea. Although the system has been
tested, most agree that further testing is necessary. The Bush Administration proposed deploying a
ground-based mid-course defense (GMD) element of the larger Ballistic Missile Defense System
(BMDS) in Europe to defend against an Iranian missile threat. The system would include 10
interceptors in Poland, a radar in the Czech Republic, and another radar deployed in a country
closer to Iran, all to be completed by 2013 at a reported cost of at least $4 billion.
The proposed U.S. system has encountered resistance in some European countries and beyond.
Critics in Poland and the Czech Republic assert that neither country currently faces a notable
threat from Iran, but that if American GMD facilities were installed, both countries might be
targeted by missiles from rogue states—and possibly from Russia. The Bush Administration
signed agreements with both countries permitting GMD facilities to be stationed on their
territory; however, the two countries’ parliaments decided to wait to ratify the accords until after
the Obama Administration clarified its intentions on missile defense policy. NATO has
deliberated long-range missile defense, and has taken actions that many interpreted as an
endorsement of the U.S. GMD system.
The GMD plan has also affected U.S.-Russia relations. Former President Putin and his successor,
Vladimir Medvedev, have argued that the proposal would reignite the arms race and upset U.S.-
Russian-European security relations. U.S. officials dispute Russia’s objections, noting that the
interceptors are intended to take out Iranian missiles aimed at Europe or the United States and
could not possibly act as a deterrent against Russia. Some argue that Russia has been attempting
to foment discord among NATO allies. In mid-2007, Russia offered to cooperate on missile
defense, proposing the use of a Russian-leased radar in Azerbaijan, but urging that U.S. facilities
not be built in Eastern Europe. President Bush welcomed the idea in principle, but insisted upon
the need for the European sites. Despite ongoing discussions over the issue, sharp Russian
criticism of the program has continued. Medvedev has said that Russia might deploy Iskander
tactical missiles to Kaliningrad, but later stated that Moscow would not do so if the United States
reversed its plan to emplace GMD facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.
For FY2008, Congress examined the European GMD proposal and eliminated proposed funding
for initial site construction pending formal agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic,
independent studies on missile defense options for Europe, and DOD certification of the proposed
interceptor. The FY2009 request for the European site was $712 million, which Congress largely
supported with funding for site construction available only after Czech and Polish ratification.
Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
The Obama Administration.......................................................................................................1
Poland......................................................................................................................... ............... 6
Debate in Poland and the Czech Republic..............................................................................12
Fiscal Year 2009......................................................................................................................18
Fiscal Year 2008......................................................................................................................19
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................21
In the FY2008 defense budget, the Bush Administration requested about $310 million to begin
design, construction, and deployment of a ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) element of 1
the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) in Europe. According to the Administration, the
proposed GMD European capability would help defend U.S. forces stationed in Europe, U.S.
friends and allies in the region, as well as to defend the United States against long-range ballistic
missile threats, namely from Iran. For FY2009, the Administration requested $712 million for
development, fielding, and military construction of the European GMD element.
The proposed system would include 10 silo-based interceptors to be deployed in Poland, a fixed
radar installation in the Czech Republic, and another transportable radar to be deployed in a
country closer to Iran. Deployment of the GMD European capability is scheduled to be completed
by 2013 at a current estimated cost of $4 billion (includes fielding and Operation and Support),
according to the Bush Administration.
The prospect of a GMD capability based in Europe raises a number of significant international
security and foreign policy questions. Central to the debate for many is how the proposed U.S.
system might affect U.S.-European-Russian relations. For FY2008, Congress eliminated funding
to start construction of the European site pending final approval of international agreements with
Poland and the Czech Republic and an independent study of alternative missile defense options 2
for Europe. Congress largely supported the Administration’s request for FY2009, but restricted
funding for site construction until after the Polish and Czech Parliaments ratify the agreements
reached with the Bush Administration. Congress continued to withhold funding for deployment of
the ground-based interceptor missiles until after the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress
that those interceptor missiles will work effectively.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator Obama said he supported the deployment of
ballistic missile defenses that were operationally effective. In her January 2009 nomination
hearings for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy said the Obama 3
Administration will review plans to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Europe.
Flournoy said the plans should be reviewed as part of the QDR (Quadrennial Defense Review)
and “in the broader security context of Europe, including our relations with Russia,” noting that
any final policy decision should consider it in the interest of the United States if Washington and
Moscow could agree to cooperate on missile defense. Flournoy also said the final contours of any
decision would require close consultations between the Administration and Congress. At his
nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for Deputy Secretary of
Defense, William Lynn responded to a question suggesting he would support making the MDA’s
1 Some were calling for such an effort in Europe before the Administration formally requested funding in early 2007.
For instance, in October 2006, Sen. Sessions noted NATO steps in developing an Alliance-wide theater missile defense
capability, and encouraged the deployment of a U.S. long-range missile defense system in Europe. See “U.S. Missile
Defense Site in Europe Needed to Support Alliance Strategy,” Space News, October 9, 2006, p. 19.
2 “Rep. Ellen Tauscher Applauds House Passage of Defense Authorization Bill,” Press Release, Office of Rep. Ellen
Tauscher, December 12, 2007.
3 Andrew Gray, “U.S. to Review Europe Missile Shield Under Obama,” Reuters News, January 15, 2009.
budgetary, acquisition, testing, and policy processes more open and similar to the military
services. “I think that all our military programs should be managed through those regular
processes,” he said, and “that would include missile defense. I would think any exceptions should 4
be rare and fully justified.” Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), head of the House Armed
Services Strategic Forces subcommittee, reportedly predicted such changes would be made in the 5
new administration. On the White House website, the Obama Administration says it “will
support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-
effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities 6
until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.”
The Bush Administration argued that North Korea and Iran constituted major strategic threats.
North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear device and has a ballistic missile program. The Bush
Administration argued that Iran continues to acquire and develop ballistic missiles of various 7
ranges. Until recently, the Bush Administration argued that Iran had an active nuclear weapons
development program. In November 2007, a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated that
“in Fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” but that Iran is also keeping open the
option to develop nuclear weapons at some point. The Iranian nuclear weapons program 8
reportedly also included developing a warhead that could fit atop an Iranian ballistic missile.
The Bush Administration regarded both countries as unpredictable and dangerous, and did not
believe they could be constrained by traditional forms of military deterrence, diplomacy, or arms
control. On a trip to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in early December 2007,
Secretary of State Rice told reporters: “I don’t see that the NIE changes the course that we’re on” 9
to deploy a European missile defense system. Accompanying her on the trip, Undersecretary of
State John Rood, lead U.S. negotiator for the European missile defense talks, added: “the missile
threat from Iran continues to progress and to cause us to be very concerned.... Missile defense
would be useful regardless of what kind of payload, whether that be conventional, chemical, 10
biological, or nuclear.”
According to long-standing unclassified U.S. intelligence assessments, Iran may be able to test an
ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) or long-range ballistic missile capability by 2015 if it
receives foreign assistance, such as from Russia or China. Many in Congress and elsewhere share
this specific assessment, or that the potential threat may not emerge by 2015 but is sufficiently
worrisome to begin addressing it now. Many therefore believe it prudent to move forward with
plans to deploy a long-range missile defense system in Europe to defend U.S. forward deployed
forces in Europe, friends and allies, and the United States against long-range ballistic missile
threats. Some in the larger international security policy and ballistic missile proliferation
4 Defense Daily, January 16, 2009.
7 CRS Report RS22758, Iran’s Ballistic Missile Programs: An Overview, by Steven A. Hildreth.
8 David Sanger and Steven Lee Meyers “Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran, U.S. Says,” New York Times,
December 6, 2007
9 “Iran Report Won’t Slow Missile Defense,” CBS News, Brussels, Belgium, December 6, 2007.
10 “U.S.: Iran Still Poses Missile Threat,” Associated Press, December 6, 2007.
community argue that evidence of an Iranian ICBM program is scant and unpersuasive.
Additionally, the Iranian government reports (which cannot be verified) that Iran has a limited 11
missile capability with a range of about 1,200 miles and that it has stopped development of
ICBM range missiles.
Although some Europeans have expressed concern about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons
program, some U.S. friends and allies in Europe question the Administration’s assessment of
Iran’s potential ICBM threat. Hence, some question the need for a GMD element of the U.S.
BMDS in Europe. In December 2008, the European Council of the European Union approved a
two-year study of ballistic missile proliferation trends.
The U.S. Department of Defense began deploying long-range missile interceptors in Alaska and
California in late 2004 to address long-range missile threats primarily from North Korea.
Currently, the U.S. GMD element of the BMDS includes about more than two dozen silo-based
interceptors in Alaska and several in California. As part of an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense
System (BMDS) capability, the United States also has a number of ground-based radars in
operation around the world, space-based assets supporting the BMDS mission, command and
control networks throughout the United States and the Pacific, as well as ground-mobile and sea-
based systems for shorter-range BMD.
What remains necessary as part of the global BMDS, according to the Bush Administration, is an
ability in the European theater to defend against intermediate-to-long-range ballistic missiles
launched from Iran. The Department of Defense (DOD) argues it is important to U.S. national
security interests to deploy a GMD capability in Europe to optimize defensive coverage of the
United States and Europe against potential threats both into Europe and against the United States.
There have not been a large number of intercept flight tests of the deployed GMD element.
Nonetheless, the Bush Administration and many U.S. military leaders expressed confidence in the 12
deployed system. Most agree there is the need for further operational testing. Some observers
continue to question how much confidence there should be in the system’s potential operational
or combat effectiveness based on the types of tests conducted and the test results to date.
11 There are reports that Iran is developing other medium-range ballistic missiles with ranges greater than those now
deployed, but short of what is considered ICBM range (i.e., more than 5,500 kilometers).
12 For instance: (1) General Cartwright, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, said the July 4, 2006 North Korean
missile tests spurred a limited operational activation of the BMD System. “We learned that the ballistic missile defense
system, procedures, and personnel performed well, and demonstrated a credible operational missile defense capability
for homeland defense.” Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 21, 2007; (2) Admiral Mullen,
on his nomination hearing to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believes the U.S. “Has a viable initial
operational capability and we are maturing the system toward a full operational capability.” “Answers to Advanced
Policy Questions,” Senate Armed Services Committee, July 26, 2007; and (3) Dr. Charles McQueary, Director,
Operational Test and Evaluation, said: “I can state that the ballistic missile defense system has demonstrated a limited
capability against a simple foreign threat. Coupled with the successes of other element-level testing and MDA’s
integrated ground tests, the BMD system is definitely maturing. My assessment is bolstered by the fact that the MDA is
increasing the operational realism of each successive test.” Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
April 11, 2007.
The current GMD program began flight tests in 2002. This effort was built on several earlier
long-range BMD programs with decidedly mixed results themselves since the early 1980s. Since 13
2002, some GMD intercept flight tests have taken place with mixed results. In each of these
tests, most all other flight test objectives were met.
In 2002, the GMD moved to the operational booster and interceptor. The interceptor system flew
two developmental tests in 2003 and 2004, and the GMD element of the BMDS was deployed in
late 2004 in Alaska and California. Two planned intercept flight tests of the new configuration for
December 2004 and February 2005 were not successful. After technical review, the interceptor
successfully demonstrated a booster fly-out in 2005. In September 2006, a successful flight test
exercise of the GMD element as deployed took place. (Although a missile intercept was not
planned as the primary objective of this data collection test, an intercept opportunity occurred and
the target warhead was successfully intercepted.) Additional intercept flight tests of the deployed
element whose primary objectives were intercepts of long-range ballistic missile targets were
originally scheduled for later in 2006, but then subsequently postponed. Then a May 2007
intercept test was scrubbed when the target missile failed to launch as planned. A follow-on
attempt scheduled for summer 2007 was completed successfully on September 29, 2007. The
Missile Defense Agency reported a successful intercept in December 2008, but some were critical
of this assessment as the test objective was for the intercept to occur amidst a field of decoys,
which decoys failed to deploy from the test target.
Supporters and many military officials express confidence in the deployed system, but others
continue to question the system’s potential effectiveness based on the mixed intercept flight test
record. Most observers agree, however, that additional, successful flight testing is necessary.
Supporters add that a significant number of non-flight tests and activities are conducted that
demonstrate with high confidence the ability of the GMD element to perform its intended 14
What would the European element of the BMDS look like? The proposal is to deploy up to 10
Ground-based Interceptors (GBI) in silos at a former military base in Poland. It should be noted
that the proposed GBI for the European GMD site will not be identical to the GBIs deployed now
in Alaska and California. Although there is significant commonality of hardware, there are some
differences. For example, the European GBI will consist of two rocket stages in contrast to the 15
three-stage GBI deployed today. This particular 2-stage configuration has not been tested and is
a basis for additional questions about the proposed system’s effectiveness. Proponents of the
system would argue that the 2-stage version is fundamentally the same as the 3-stage system,
13 Two tests in March and October 2002 using an older interceptor successfully intercepted their intended targets. Three
flight tests (IFT-10, IFT-13c and IFT-14) using the GBI in planned intercept attempts failed in those attempts for
various reasons: (1) December 2002, the kill vehicle failed to deploy; (2) December 2004, the GBI launch aborted due
to a software error in the interceptor; and (3) February 2005, the GBI did not launch due to problems with the test
facility launch equipment. In the May 2007 flight test, the target missile second stage booster failed in flight, so the
interceptor was not launched as planned. In September 2006 and 2007 successful intercepts were achieved.
14 The Bush Administration maintained that since 2002 it has fielded a long-range BMD capability where none existed
previously. Furthermore, the United States now has operationally capable upgraded early warning radars, command,
control and battle management systems, Navy cruisers and destroyers capable of conducting long-range ballistic
missile search and track missions, and about 20 GBI fielded in Alaska and California. This element of the BMDS was
transitioned to alert in July 2006 when North Korea launched several ballistic missiles, including a long-range ballistic
15 Boost Vehicle Plus. Report to Congress. March 1, 2007. Missile Defense Agency. For Official Use Only.
however.16 In Europe, the GBI reportedly will not need the third stage to achieve the range 17
needed to intercept its intended target. This issue has raised the question for some observers as
to whether other U.S. systems designed for shorter or medium-range ballistic missile threats, such
as Patriot, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), or Aegis (sea-based BMD) might be
more appropriate for addressing the current and prospective Iranian ballistic missile threat to
Europe. DOD’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) believes these systems would not be adequate to
counter prospective Iranian ballistic missile threats over the mid-term and longer.
Deployment of the silos and interceptors in Poland is scheduled to begin in 2011 with completion
in 2013. A final decision on specific locations took into consideration detailed site and
environmental analyses, as well as an overall security and support assessment. The field of the 10
interceptors itself is likely to comprise an area somewhat larger than a football field. The area of
supporting infrastructure is likely to be similar to a small military installation. In addition, an
American X-Band radar (a narrow-beam, midcourse tracking radar), that was being used in the
Pacific missile test range, would be refurbished and transported to a fixed site at a military
training base in the Czech Republic. The X-Band radar with its large, ball-shaped radome (radar
dome) is several stories in height. A second, transportable forward acquisition radar would be
deployed in a country to be determined, but closer to Iran. Some European press accounts once
mentioned the Caucasus region, but the Bush Administration never publicly indicated where this
radar might be located. Additionally, the proposed GMD European capability would include a
communications network and support infrastructure (e.g., power generation, security and force
protection systems, etc.) A few hundred U.S. personnel would be engaged in securing and
operating both the interceptor and radar sites. The Administration intends for the United States to
have full command authority over the system.
The FY2008 request was $310.4 million for the proposed European GMD across several program
elements of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) budget. The total reported GMD costs for the
European site are about $4 billion (FY2007-FY2013), including Operation and Support costs
through 2013. Although relatively small in U.S. defense budget terms, the FY2008 request
represented a significant commitment to the proposed European system. The FY2009 request was
for $712 million.
In 2007, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees asked for studies of alternatives
to the Administration’s proposed European GMD deployment (see “Congressional Actions”).
This classified review was provided to Congress in August 2008. Some, such as Representative
Tauscher, suggested the Administration consider instead a combination of sea-based (Aegis SM-
3) and land-based systems (PAC-3, THAAD). MDA Director General Henry Obering has argued
that most of the current Aegis fleet would be required to defend Europe, and that the cost would 18
be considerably greater than the current Bush Administration proposal. MDA’s assessments,
however, assume the need for 24/7 coverage. Assessments based on deployment on a contingency
basis or crisis reduce significantly the estimated cost of such alternatives. Separately, the Center
for Naval Analyses (a federally funded research center) is conducting an analysis of alternatives
16 The Orbital Boost Vehicle 2 (OBV/2) is a modification of the existing, tested OBV/3 achieved by removing the 3rd
stage from the existing missile.
17 More accurately, according to MDA, two stages provide the enhanced performance and burnout velocity required for
18 See http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1539/how-many-aegis-ships-to-defend-nato.
for the Navy’s next big surface combatant ship.19 That review reportedly includes
recommendations about future naval BMD requirements that might bear on any discussion of
alternatives to the proposed European GMD plan.
In 2002 the Bush Administration began informal talks with the governments of Poland and the
Czech Republic over the possibility of establishing missile defense facilities on their territory.
Discussion of a more concrete plan—placing radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor
launchers in Poland—was reported in the summer of 2006. The issue was increasingly debated in
both countries. In January 2007, the U.S. government requested that formal negotiations begin.
Agreements have been struck with both countries, and if the Polish and Czech parliaments
approve the projects, construction on the sites could begin relatively soon, according to MDA
officials. The two governments have grappled with several issues as the debate has evolved.
Some analysts maintain that in Poland the notion of stationing American GMD facilities was
more or less accepted early on in the discussions and that the main questions subsequently have
revolved around what the United States might provide Warsaw in return. Some Poles believe their
country should receive additional security guarantees in exchange for assuming a larger risk of
being targeted by rogue state missiles because of the presence of the U.S. launchers on their soil.
In addition, many Poles are concerned about Russia’s response. Both of the past two Polish
governments reportedly requested that the United States provide batteries of Patriot missiles to 20
shield Poland against short- and medium-range missiles.
Formal negotiations on the base agreement, which will require the approval of the Polish
parliament, began in early 2007 under the populist-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, led by
Jaroslaw Kaczynski. As talks began, Civic Alliance (PO), then the leading opposition party, had
questions about the system—particularly the command and control aspects—and urged the
government to ensure that it be integrated into a future NATO missile defense program. The
former ruling leftist party supported deployment of the missiles, but also called for greater
transparency in the decision-making process. The smaller parties of the governing coalition
expressed some skepticism, mainly for reasons of sovereignty, and indicated support for a public 21
In snap elections on October 21, 2007, Poles turned out PiS and replaced it with a center-right
two-party coalition led by PO; its leader, Donald Tusk, became prime minister. During the
campaign, Tusk indicated that his government would not be as compliant toward the United
States as PiS, and that it would seek to bargain more actively on missile defense.
19 “U.S. May Build 25,000-ton Cruiser, Analysis of Alternatives Sees Nuclear BMD Vessel,” Defense News, July 23,
2007, by Christopher P. Cavas.
20 U.S. Missiles in Poland—Risks and Benefits. Rzeczpospolita. In BBC European Monitoring. November 15, 2005.
Sikorski Exit Is Bad For MD Bid. Oxford Analytica. February 8, 2007.
21 Polish Politician Weighs Up Pros and Cons Of US Radar Plan. Gazeta Wyborcza, February 5, 2007. In: BBC
Monitoring European. February 6, 2007. See also: Don’t Take Poland For Granted. Radek Sikorski [former Polish
Defense Minister and current Foreign Minister]. Washington Post. March 21, 2007.
As he left office, former Prime Minister Kaczynski urged the incoming government to approve
the missile defense proposal, arguing that an agreement would strengthen relations with the
United States. In a post-election news conference, however, Tusk was cautious about the plan: “If
we recognize that the anti-missile shield clearly enhances our security, then we will be open to
negotiations.... If we recognize, jointly in talks with our partners from the European Union and
NATO, that this is not an unambiguous project, then we will think it over.” Two weeks later,
however, newly minted Defense Minister Bogdan Klich stated that Poland should again “weigh
the benefits and costs of this project for Poland. And if that balance results unfavorably, we 22
should draw a conclusion from those results.” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski later indicated
that the new government would discuss the project with Russia.
Talks between Warsaw and Washington resumed in early 2008. Some observers forecast that the
new Polish government would strongly renew the argument for the United States to provide 23
additional air and/or short-range missile defenses. On February 2, 2008, during a visit by
Sikorski to Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Rice voiced support for strengthening
Poland’s air defenses. Although there was said to be agreement “in principle” on the missile
defense issue, an accord was not signed when Prime Minister Tusk visited the United States in the 24
The major sticking point in the negotiations was the question of U.S. assistance for Poland’s
military “modernization,” mainly in the form of PAC-3 air defense. During Prime Minister Tusk’s
visit to Washington DC in March 2008, however, President Bush declared, “Before my watch is
over we will have assessed [Poland’s] needs and come up with a modernization plan that’s
concrete and tangible.” Nevertheless, the meeting of the two leaders did not result in a deal being
struck. In addition, Poland has been anxious that the two projects not be too explicitly linked, for
fear of further alienating Russia. Concerning the likely future of the program, Polish Ambassador
to the United States Robert Kupiecki in spring 2008 told a Polish parliamentary committee that
“there are serious reasons to think that the project will be continued” by Bush’s successor, no
matter whom it might be. A Czech newspaper reported that MDA Director Obering “said [on
April 2 that] the United States will be interested in stationing the radar in the Czech Republic 25
even if it does not reach agreement with Poland.” What this might have meant for the overall
system without the interceptors sited in Poland was not clear. However, some suggested that the
radar would be useful if used in conjunction with other medium-range BMD systems, such as
Aegis, in the absence of GMD interceptors based in Poland. In addition, Bush Administration
officials reportedly held discussions on the interceptor basing issue with the government of
22 Poland’s Likely Next Prime Minister Open To Talks On U.S. Missile Defense. Poland Business Newswire.
November 6, 2007. Poland’s New Defense Chief Wants To Reconsider U.S. Missile Defense Request. AP. November
23 Poland Said Likely To Launch Tough Missile Defence Talks With USA. Gazeta Wyborcza [in: BBC Monitoring
European.] December 5, 2007.
24 “Poland Says U.S. Shield a ‘Foregone Conclusion.’” Reuters. July 16, 2007. Poland Signals Doubts About Planned
U.S. Missile-Defense Bases On Its Territory. New York Times. January 7, 2008. No Poland-US Missile Deal Next
Month: Defense Minister. AFP. February 2, 2008.
25 Bush, Poland’s Tusk Discuss Missile Shield Plans. Agence France Presse. March 10, 2008. Game For US Shield
Begins. Polish News Bulletin. March 14, 2008. Next U.S. Pres. Unlikely To Axe Proposed Central European Missile
Defense Project—Polish Diplomat. Poland Business Newswire. April 2, 2008. Czech, USA Agree On Main Treaty On
U.S. Radar On Czech Soil. CTK Daily News. April 3, 2008.
Lithuania.26 In early July, the Polish media reported that a meeting in Washington between 27
Foreign Minister Sikorski and Secretary Rice failed to produce an agreement.
In a surprise move on August 14, Polish and U.S. government officials initialed an agreement; the
formal accord was signed six days later by Rice and Sikorski. Some observers believe that the
negotiations, which had stalled in July, received impetus from concerns over Russia’s military
incursion into South Ossetia in early August. While some U.S. officials denied an explicit linkage
between the two events, U.S. Defense Secretary Gates on August 15 commented that Russia’s
neighbors have “a higher incentive to stand with us now than they did before, now that they have 28
seen what the Russians have done in Georgia.” Under the agreement, Poland received from the
United States enhanced security guarantees, which Minister Sikorski likened to a “kind of 29
reinforcement of Article 5 [the NATO treaty’s mutual defense clause].” The United States also
pledged to help modernize Poland’s armed forces, in part by providing a battery of Patriot air
defense missiles, which reportedly would be re-deployed from Germany and would initially be
manned by U.S. military personnel.
Polls have consistently indicated that a majority of Poles disapprove of a missile defense base
being established in their country. Most objections appear to be based on concerns over
sovereignty, as well as over the belief that the presence of the system would diminish rather than
increase national security and might harm relations with neighboring states and Russia. However,
the Russian military action in Georgia and its subsequent threats to place tactical missiles in
Kaliningrad (see below) may have increased support in Poland for the missile shield – and for the 30
battery of Patriots.
The Polish parliament did not immediately ratify the agreement. The speaker of the Polish
parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, said that he would not “rush” the vote, and added that “it
would be worth knowing if the election result in the U.S. would have an influence on the U.S.
attitude towards this program.” In an August 19 news conference, Prime Minister Tusk said that
he had requested Foreign Minister Sikorski to discuss missile defense with “both candidates John
McCain and Barack Obama – and both conversations, although less decisively in the second case, 31
indicated support for the project.” President Kaczynski’s office criticized Prime Minister Tusk
for delaying ratification until after elections. Despite the delay, U.S.-Polish negotiations on GMD 32
continued. In addition, the Poles continued to hold high-level discussions with Moscow.
Shortly after the U.S. elections, President-elect Obama spoke by phone with President Kaczynski;
there was apparent confusion on the Polish side over whether or not President-elect Obama had
26 As Poles Balk, U.S. Eyes Lithuania As Site For Missile Shield. New York Times. June 19, 2008.
27 No Progress On Shield Talks. Polish News Bulletin. July 8, 2008. Date Of US-Poland Treaty On Missile Base Still
Unknown. Poland This Week. July 11, 2008.
28 Russian Relations In Doubt, Gates Says. Washington Post. August 15, 2008.
29 US Missile Deal Gives Poland Patriots, Bolstered Defence Ties. AFP. August 20, 2008. Some analysts, however,
have argued that the agreement’s special security guarantee may be questioned by other NATO allies, especially in
central Europe. See Implications of the U.S.-Polish Defense Pact. By William L. T. Schirano. Center for European
Policy Analysis. August 29, 2008.
30 With Russia Rising, Poles Look West. New York Times. August 21, 2008.
31 Polish Lower House Speaker Refuses To Rush Ratification Of Polish-U.S. Missile Shield Deal. Poland Business
Newswire. August 20, 2008. U.S. Presidential Candidates endorse Missile Shield Project, Obama Less Enthusiastic –
Polish PM. Poland Business Newswire. August 19, 2008.
32 Czechs See Anti-missile radar Ratified By Year-end. Reuters. July 9, 2008.
made a commitment to continue with the GMD plan. During a meeting with residents of the
village near which the interceptors would be based, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe
reportedly said that the GMD project would likely be in suspension until such time as the Obama 33
Administration had formulated its policies.
In a mid-November 2008 interview, Foreign Minister Sikorski estimated the chances of the
system’s continuation at more than 50 percent. He added, however, that budgetary pressure might
lead to the project being “put on hold” – a regrettable possibility, in his view. Sikorski has also
noted that, “[t]here are clauses in the agreement that say it can be cancelled if there’s no
financing.” During an address delivered in Washington in late November, Sikorski said that he
hoped the GMD project would continue, as it was a sign of transatlantic cooperation. He also
implied that hosting the interceptor base would bolster Poland’s security, commenting that 34
“everyone agrees that countries that have U.S. soldiers on their territory do not get invaded.”
Polish President Kacyznski and Foreign Minister Sikorski both recently have expressed hope 35
publically that the Obama Administration will continue the program.
Some observers believe that Polish MPs, like their Czech counterparts, are reluctant to approve a
treaty that may not be acted upon. Olaf Osica, a fellow at Warsaw’s Natolin European Center,
commented that “[o]ne of the worst scenarios for the Polish government would be if the 36
agreement is ratified and then it turns out that Americans are no longer committed to it.”
In September 2002, the Czech defense minister, a member of the Social Democratic Party
(CSSD), announced that he had “offered the United States the opportunity to deploy the missile 37
defense system on Czech soil.” In June 2006, inconclusive elections toppled the CSSD
government and replaced it with a shaky coalition led by the center-right Civic Democratic Party
(ODS). As with the outgoing government, the new one voiced support for GMD. However, the
CSSD, now in opposition, began to backpedal on its support as polls showed increasing public
skepticism, and by mid-2006 only the ODS was unambiguously backing deployment. When a
relatively stable ODS-led government was finally formed in January 2007, the ODS apparently
persuaded its coalition partners to support GMD (the Greens made their agreement contingent
upon NATO approval). In January 2007, it was announced that the United States had requested
that official negotiations be started, and in March the Czech government formally agreed to
In October 2007, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Prague to discuss several issues—
including the planned radar installation—with Czech leaders. During the visit, he reportedly
proposed that, in the interest of transparency, Russia be allowed to station personnel at the radar
site. Czech Prime Minister Topolanek had no immediate comment but appeared to concur with
Gates’s observation that the presence of Russians on Czech territory would have to be approved
33 U.S. Ambassador: Decision On Missile Shield Suspended. Polish News Bulletin. November 26, 2008.
34 Poland Won’t Lobby Obama On Missile Defense. Washington Post. November 20, 2008. Sikorski: New US
Administration May Put on Hold Anti-missile Shield Project. Polish News Bulletin. November 13, 2008.
35 Polish President Hopes Obama As U.S. President Will Treat Missile Shield As “Necessary.” Polish Business
Newswire. January 19, 2009.
36 Obama, Democrats Likely To Pare back Missile Defense Plans To Save Money. CQ Today. November 17, 2008.
37 Czech Republic Seeks Joining Missile Defence Shield Project. BBC Monitoring European. September 17, 2002.
by Czechs first. Gates also suggested that activation of the missile defense system could be
delayed until such time as there was “... definitive proof of the threat—in other words, Iranian
missile testing and so on.” On the same day, however, President Bush delivered a speech in which
he called the need for the missile defense project “urgent.” Some analysts argued that the U.S.
proposal to include Russia might complicate Topolanek’s efforts to secure approval for an 38
eventual agreement with the United States. On March 19, 2008, a State Department official
announced that the Czech Republic had agreed to join in proposing to Russia an agreement that
would permit reciprocal inspections of missile defense radar facilities. However, during an April
on our soil, they will have to speak with us first.”
On December 5, 2007, the Czech Foreign Ministry issued a statement asserting that the U.S.
intelligence community’s conclusion that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in
re-emerge in the future. In late January 2008, Jiri Paroubek, leader of the opposition CSSD
party, argued that, because of the high and increasing public resistance to the radar, the
government should freeze negotiations until after the results of the November 2008 U.S.
presidential elections were known. He also urged that Prime Minister Topolanek report on the 41
substance of his upcoming talks on the issue with President Bush.
During a visit to Washington in late February 2008, Topolanek said that the two sides were “three
words” away from an agreement. On April 3, 2008, during the NATO summit in Bucharest,
Czech media reported that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg had announced that Prague and
Washington had reached an accord over the terms of the proposed U.S. radar base, and that a
treaty would be signed in May. The signing was postponed due to scheduling conflicts, and
finally took place on July 8, during a visit by Secretary of State Rice. As part of the deal, the
United States reportedly agreed to provide ballistic missile defense—from Aegis system-equipped 42
U.S. Navy vessels—for the Czech Republic.
The agreement must now be ratified by the parliament, and approval is not a foregone conclusion.
In April, Schwarzenberg said that he thought “the conclusions of the NATO summit regarding US
MD should be sufficient for the junior government Green party to vote in favor of the radar.”
However, a Czech newspaper stated that “[a]t the moment the government lacks at least five
votes.” Although the Green Party leadership reportedly called for its members to oppose the radar 43
despite the NATO summit declaration, some members reportedly intend to support the project.
On July 9, 2008, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar expressed confidence that
parliament would ratify the treaty by the end of the year or early in 2009, and added that “it is
38 US May Delay Missile Defense System. AP. October 23, 2007. Administration Diverges On Missile Defense.
Washington Post. October 24, 2007. Gates Causes Missile Defence Flap. Oxford Analytica. October 24, 2007.
39 US Offers Mutual MD Checks. Oxford Analytica. March 20, 2008.
40 Czechs Say Report On Iran Nuclear Program Not To Influence Missile Defense Talks. Associated Press. December
41 Select Briefing Europe East. Center for Strategic and International Studies. Vol. 5, No. 3. February 1, 2008.
42 Czechs, USA Agree Radar Treaty To Be Signed In May. BBC Monitoring European. April 3, 2008. U.S. To Give
Czechs Ballistic Missile Defense. Washington Post. July 16, 2008.
43 Czech Minister Sees ‘Virtually No Opposition’ in NATO, EU to US Missile Shield. BBC Monitoring European.
April 7, 2008. US Set To Sign Main Czech Radar Deal: Embassy. AFP. April 7, 2008. Czech Senator To Vote For
Radar Base Against Greens’ Call. CTK Daily News. April 15, 2008.
probable that the [ratification] vote will be after the election in the United States, however, that
does not mean that it would be after the new (U.S.) President takes office.”
At the end of October, the Czechs announced that ratification would take place after the
inauguration of the next President. Prime Minister Topolanek explained that “We want a delay to
make sure about the attitude of the new American administration.” In mid-November, Miloslav
Vlcek, chairman of the lower house of parliament – a member of the opposition CCSD –
confirmed that a ratification vote would not be held until after Barack Obama had been
inaugurated; in addition, he expressed doubts that the treaty would be approved, and also
suggested that the radar deployment might face a constitutional challenge. Although the Czech
Senate on November 26 ratified the agreement by a vote of 49-31, it must still pass the chamber 44
of deputies, where approval is less certain. Parties on both sides of the issue are hopeful that the 45
Obama Administration will validate their position on missile defense.
Public opinion surveys consistently have shown strong (60%-70%) opposition to the plan among 46
Czechs, who share many of their Polish neighbors’ concerns. Some Czech officials believe that
public disfavor may be the result of a lack of knowledge about the program, and argue that the
U.S. government has not provided sufficient information about the planned facilities. The CSSD
called for a public referendum on the issue, and on September 2, 2008, joined with the Polish 47
Social Democrats in opposition to the missile defense agreements.
U.S. proponents of the missile defense program note that the bases being planned would be part
of a limited defensive system, not an offensive one. The missiles would not have explosive
payloads, and would be launched only in the event that the United States or its friends or allies
were under actual attack. Critics respond that Europe does not currently face a significant threat
from Iran or its potential surrogates, but that Polish and Czech participation in the European
GMD element would create such a threat. If American GMD facilities were installed, they argue,
both countries would likely be targeted by terrorists, as well as by missiles from rogue states—
and possibly from Russia—in the event of a future confrontation.
44 Czech Govt Wants Vote On Missile Shield After US Election. Agence France Presse. October 29, 2008. US Base’s
Chance In Czech Parliament Diminishing – Vlcek in Russia. CTK Daily News. November 17, 2008. Czech MPs Delay
U.S. Shield Deal Debate Until Obama’s Inauguration. RIA Novosti. November 28, 2008. Missile Defense Deal With
US Clears Czech Senate, Faces Tougher test In Lower Chamber. Associated Press Newswires. November 27, 2008.
45 Czech Politicians Disagree On U.S. Radar Plans Under Obama. CTK Daily News. January 20, 2009.
46 Czech Poll Indicates Number Of Missile Defense Radar Opponents Declines. AP. September 26, 2007. But see also:
Many Czechs Love U.S., But Say ‘Hold the Radar.’ New York Times. October 1, 2007. Poll: 70 Percent of Czechs
Oppose U.S. Missile Defense Plan. Associated Press. January 8, 2008. Majority of Czechs Against U.S. Anti-missile
Radar System. Poland Business Newswire. July 9, 2008.
47 Paroubek Says U.S. Ambassador Told Him On His Govt Talks On Base. CTK Daily News. July 8, 2007. Czech
Opposition Leader Watns to Know Contents of Talks with Bush. CTK Daily News. January 30, 2008. Czech, Polish
Socialists Reject U.S. Missile Defence Shield. CTK Daily News. September 2, 2008.
Some proponents of the proposed GMD European capability system assert that cooperation
would help consolidate bilateral relations with the United States. In Poland in particular there is a
sense, based in part on historical experience, that the United States is the only major ally that can
be relied upon. Therefore, some Poles argue, it would be beneficial to strengthen the relationship
by becoming an important U.S. partner through joining the missile defense system. In addition,
some Czechs and Poles believe that the missile defense sites would become a prestigious symbol
of the two countries’ enhanced role in defending Europe. Some would argue that the Czechs and
the Poles see this formal U.S. military presence as an ultimate security guarantee against Russia;
when asked shortly before Poland’s October 21, 2007, parliamentary elections about the missile 48
defense issue, former Prime Minister Kaczynski singled out Russia as a threat.
Opponents, however, contend that this is not a valid reason for accepting missile defense facilities
because the two countries, which joined NATO in 1999, already enjoy a security guarantee
through the alliance’s mutual defense clause. Polish missile defense skeptics also maintain that
their country does not need to improve its bilateral security relationship with the United States
because it has already shown its loyalty through its significant contributions to the military
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism. Some Polish and Czech
political leaders reason that the United States may proceed with missile defense with or without
them, so they may as well be on board. However, the missile bases are unpopular among the
Czech and Polish public, and any government that agreed to host such facilities might lose
political support. In addition, some Czechs and Poles may be speculating whether it would be
worthwhile to expend political capital on the GMD bases, as the issue may become moot. If
GMD proponents are voted out of office in the United States and the project is discontinued, 49
“Poland will become an international laughingstock.” A Czech member of parliament noted
that, if the U.S. Congress determines not to fund a European arm of missile defense, “[t]he USA 50
will thus solve the problem for us.”
Some Czechs and Poles have argued that the extra-territorial status of the proposed bases would
impinge upon national sovereignty. However, the Czech position is that the base “would be under 51
the Czech Republic’s jurisdiction.” In addition, some have raised questions over command and
control—who would decide when to push the launch button and what would the notification
system be? Polish and Czech government leaders reportedly acknowledge that the time between
the detection of the launch of a missile by a hostile regime and the need to fire off an interceptor
would be so brief as to preclude government-to-government consultations.
Opponents have also cautioned that the interception of a nuclear-tipped missile over Polish or
Czech territory could result in a rain of deadly debris. Supporters argue that an enemy missile
48 Polish PM: Hosting U.S. Shield May Counter Russia. Reuters. October 18, 2007.
49 Polish Daily: US Missile Defence in Poland Means ‘Local Arms Race’ With Belarus. BBC Monitoring European.
November 18, 2005.
50 USA Wants To Deploy Missile Defence Radar On Czech Territory—Foreign Minister. CTV [Czech news agency].
In: BBC Monitoring European. November 29, 2006.
51 That Missile Debate of Ours. Pravo. September 9, 2006. In: BBC Monitoring European. September 12, 2006. Any
US Missile Base On Czech Territory Subject To Czech Laws—Czech Ministry. BBC Monitoring European. August 18,
2006. State Security Council Okays US Radar. Pravo. In: BBC European Monitoring. January 26, 2006. Czech Premier
Reminds Opposition Its Cabinet Started Talks On US Radar Base. CTK Czech News Agency. In: BBC European
Monitoring. February 1, 2007.
would not be intercepted over Eastern Europe, and that even if it were, the tremendous kinetic
energy of impact would cause both projectiles to be obliterated and any debris burnt upon
atmospheric reentry. Skeptics note, however, that testing of these systems is never performed over
The proposed U.S. system has encountered resistance in some European countries and beyond.
Some critics claim that the program is another manifestation of American unilateralism and argue
that, because of opposition by major European partners, Polish and Czech participation in the 52
GMD program could damage those countries’ relations with fellow EU members. Supporters,
however, counter that the establishment of a missile defense system would protect Europe as well
as the United States.
Some European leaders have asserted that the Bush Administration did not consult sufficiently
with European allies or with Russia on its GMD plans. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier faulted the Bush Administration for failing to adequately discuss the proposal with
affected countries. Former French President Chirac cautioned against the creation of “new
divisions in Europe.” Bush Administration officials, however, maintained that these arguments
were disingenuous, as they had held wide-ranging discussions on GMD with European
governments, and with Russia, both bilaterally and in the framework of the NATO-Russia 53
Council. In addition, critics charged that establishing a European GMD base to counter Iranian
missiles implied a tacit assumption on the part of the Bush Administration that diplomatic efforts
to curb Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile aspirations were doomed to failure, and that Iran’s
future leaders would be undeterred by the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Finally, an analyst
with the Swedish Transnational Foundation Research Center has argued that the U.S. missile 54
defense system is being built in order to enable the use of a first strike.
Europeans also have raised questions about the technical feasibility of the program as well as its
cost-effectiveness. According to a wire service report, “Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean 55
Asselborn called the U.S. [missile defense] plan an ‘incomprehensible’ waste of money.... ”
Other European leaders, however, including those of Denmark and Britain, indicated that they
supported the missile defense project as a means to protect Europe from threats from rogue states.
In addition, some European allies do not appear to be averse to the missile defense concept per
se. Foreign Minister Steinmeier indicated that Germany and other countries were interested in 56
building a comparable system, but lacked the technological know-how.
52 Missile Shield: Poland’s Security Better Served By Supporting Ukraine’s Western Ambitions Than By Building
Another Maginot Line. Polish News Bulletin. December 22, 2005.
53 Where Does Germany Stand? Spiegel Online. March 26, 2007. US Build Pressure On Europe Over Bases. Financial
Times. February 21, 2007. France Calls For Dialogue on US Anti-Missile System. Agence France Presse (AFP).
February 21, 2007. U.S. Officials Brief On Missile Defense. February 23, 2007. U.S. Embassy Warsaw.
54 Swedish Expert Says US Missile Shield Meant To Allow Nuclear First Strike. BBC Monitoring. January 8, 20080.
55 NATO Stepping Up Talks On Missile Defense Amid Concerns Over US Plans. Associated Press. March 12, 2007.
56 Danish PM Supports US Anti-Missile Shield. AFP. March 7, 2007. Blair: We Need To Look At Missile Options.
Press Association National Newswire. February 28, 2007. Europe Considers Missile Defense System: German
Minister. AFP. February 19, 2007.
NATO has also been deliberating strategic missile defenses. A feasibility study of such a program
called for in the 2002 Prague Summit was completed in 2005. In the final communiqué of their
2006 Riga summit, NATO leaders declared the alliance study had concluded that long-range
BMD is “technically feasible within the limitations and assumptions of the study,” and called for
“continued work on the political and military implications of missile defence for the Alliance
including an update on missile threat developments.” Supporters contend that the U.S. facilities
currently under negotiation in Eastern Europe are intended to be a good fit—and therefore not
inconsistent with—any future NATO missile defense. However, other policymakers have
recommended that the establishment of any anti-missile system in Europe should proceed solely
under NATO auspices rather than on a bilateral basis with just two NATO partners. U.S. officials 57
maintain that “the more NATO is involved in [GMD], the better.”
Some observers have suggested that the Bush Administration chose not to work primarily through
NATO because consensus agreement on the system was unlikely. However, in mid-June 2007,
alliance defense ministers did agree to conduct a study of a complementary “bolt-on” anti-missile
capability that would protect the southeastern part of alliance territory that would not be covered
by the planned U.S. interceptors. American officials interpreted the move as an implied
endorsement of the U.S. GMD plan and an adaptation of NATO plans to fit the proposed U.S.
system. In addition, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated “The roadmap on 58
missile defense is now clear.... It’s practical, and it’s agreed by all.”
The Bush Administration hoped that NATO would endorse missile defense at its 2008 summit 59
meeting, held April 2-4 in Bucharest, Romania. The Summit Declaration stated that the alliance
acknowledges that ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat. It further affirmed that
missile defense is part of a “broader response,” and that the proposed U.S. system would make a
“substantial contribution” to the protection of the alliance. It declared that the alliance is
“exploring ways to link [the U.S. assets] with current NATO efforts” to couple with “any future
NATO-wide missile defense architecture.” The declaration also directed the development, by the
time of the 2009 summit, of “options” for anti-missile defense of any alliance territory that would
not be covered by the planned U.S. installations. These options would be prepared “to inform any
future political decision.” In addition, the document declared support for ongoing efforts to
“strengthen NATO-Russia missile defense cooperation,” and announced readiness to look for
ways to link “United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time.”
Finally, alliance members stated that they are “deeply concerned” over the “proliferation risks”
implied by the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of Iran and North Korea, and called upon 60
those countries to comply with pertinent UN Security Council resolutions.
The Bush Administration interpreted the Summit Declaration as an endorsement of its missile
defense project; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed the statement as a “breakthrough
document.” Concerning the question of whether ballistic missiles from rogue states were a threat, 61
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley declared, “I think that debate ended today.”
57 This program should be distinguished from the theater missile defense system intended to protect deployed forces,
which the alliance has already approved. See Riga Summit Declaration. NATO web page. http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/
2006/p06-150e.htm Missile Defense and Europe. Foreign Press Briefing. U.S. Department of State. March 28, 2007.
58 NATO Considers Missile Defenses For Southeastern Flank In Tandem With U.S. Shield. Associated Press. June 14,
2007. U.S. Wins NATO Backing On Missile Defense. New York Times. June 15, 2007.
59 NATO Debates BMD Ahead Of April Bucharest Summit. WMD Insights. April, 2008.
60 NATO Summit Declaration. April 3, 20008 http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/2008/p08-049e.html.
61 NATO Backs U.S. Missile Shield. Los Angeles Times. April 4, 2008. NATO Endorses Europe Missile Shield. New
Representative Tauscher welcomed “NATO’s acknowledgment of the contribution that the long-
range interceptor site could make to Alliance security” and to make “cooperation with NATO a 62
cornerstone of its missile defense proposal.”
In the final communiqué of their December 3, 2008 meeting, the foreign ministers of NATO
member states reiterated the language on missile defense that had been included in the Bucharest
summit declaration, while also noting “as a relevant development the signature of agreements by
the Czech Republic and the Republic of Poland with the United States regarding those assets.”
The communiqué also called upon Moscow “to refrain from confrontational statements, including
assertions of a sphere of influence, and from threats to the security of Allies and Partners, such as
the one concerning the possible deployment of short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region.” 63
(see below.) The latter statement was likely included at Warsaw’s insistence.
European opponents of the proposed U.S. plan also contend that statements by Russian officials
are evidence that deployment of the U.S. system would damage Western relations with Russia. At
a February 2007 security conference in Munich, former President Putin strongly criticized GMD,
maintaining that it would lead to “an inevitable arms race.” Russia has threatened to abrogate the
1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated this class of U.S. and
then-Soviet missiles that were stationed in Europe. Putin also announced that Russia had 64
suspended compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, and on another
occasion indicated Russia might now target Poland and the Czech Republic and transfer medium-
range ballistic missiles to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Some U.S. and European officials
dismissed Russia’s alleged concerns and have noted that Moscow has known of this plan for 65
years and has even been invited to participate. GMD proponents maintain that the interceptors
are intended to take out launched Iranian missiles aimed at European or American targets and
could not possibly act as a deterrent against Russia, which has hundreds of missiles and thousands
of warheads. The chief of the Czech general staff has noted that “by simple arithmetic, Russian
generals can see that U.S. missile defenses cannot imperil Moscow’s arsenal.” Some Russians
contend, however, that the modest GMD facilities planned for Eastern Europe are likely just the
harbinger of a more ambitious program.
Russian officials have also argued that North Korean or Iranian missiles would not likely enter
European airspace, and that the real reason for GMD is to emplace U.S. radar in eastern Europe to
monitor Russian missile sites and naval operations. A Czech military officer dismissed the charge
of electronic espionage as “absolute nonsense,” arguing that “the radar monitors the already
York Times. April 4, 2008.
62 Opening Statement, Chairman Ellen O. Tauscher, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Hearing on the FY2009 Budget
Request for Missile Defense Programs, April 17, 2008.
63 Final communiqué. Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers held at NATO
Headquarters, Brussels. December 3, 2008. NATO website: http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/2008/p08-153e.html Poland
Wants NATO To Declare Russian Placement Threat As Unacceptable – Sikorski. Poland Business Newswire.
December 3, 2008.
64 See CRS Report RL33865, Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements, by Amy F.
Woolf, Paul K. Kerr, and Mary Beth Nikitin, section on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. NATO “Very
Concerned” At Russia Treaty Pullout. Reuters. July 16, 2007.
65 Russia Sees Threat From US Plan For Missiles In Eastern Europe. AFP. January 22, 2007. Poland Government
Leaders Meet On U.S. Missile Defense Proposal. Associated Press. February 12, 2007.
launched missiles, and it cannot monitor what is going on the ground”—a task that is already 66
being performed by U.S. surveillance satellites.
Some argue that Russia has other motives for raising alarms about the U.S. missile defense
system: to foment discord among NATO member states, and to draw attention away from
Russia’s suppression of domestic dissent, its aggressive foreign policy actions, and its nuclear
technology cooperation with Iran. Observers note that Russia blustered about NATO expansion,
too, and argue that Russia’s veiled threats may actually stiffen resolve in Prague and Warsaw.
Some observers note, however, that Russian acceptance of NATO expansion was conditioned on
a tacit understanding that NATO or U.S. military expansion into the new member states would
not occur. The European GMD in this regard is seen as unacceptable to Russia.
On June 7, 2007, during the G-8 meeting in Germany, Putin offered to partner with the United
States on missile defense, and suggested that a Soviet-era radar facility in Azerbaijan be used to
help track and target hostile missiles that might be launched from the Middle East. President Bush
responded by calling the proposal an “interesting suggestion,” and welcomed the apparent policy
shift. The following day, Putin suggested that GMD interceptors be “placed in the south, in U.S.
NATO allies such as Turkey, or even Iraq ... [or] on sea platforms.” Military and political
representatives from both countries have met to discuss the proposal, but some experts point out
that Azerbaijan is technically not the ideal place to locate the radar because it would be too close
to potential Iranian launch sites; they also argue that the radar is outmoded.
In the meantime, Putin urged the United States not to deploy elements of GMD until his offer had
been examined. One week later, however, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that even if
the United States were to accept Russia’s offer to share use of the Azeri radar, that facility would
be regarded as “an additional capability” to complement the proposed GMD sites planned for 67
Europe. In late July 2007, MDA Director Obering said the United States was looking at the
proposal very seriously. He said the Azeri radar could be useful for early detection of missile
launches, but that it does not have the tracking ability to guide an interceptor missile to a target—
which the proposed Czech radar would be able to do.
At a July 1-2, 2007, meeting in Kennebunkport, ME, Putin expanded on his counterproposal by
recommending that missile defense be coordinated through offices in Brussels and Moscow. He
also suggested the possible use of radar in south Russia and said that cooperation could be
expanded to other European countries through the use of the NATO-Russia council—eliminating,
he added, the need for facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. President Bush reportedly
responded positively to Putin’s new proposal, but insisted on the need for the Eastern European 68
Despite ongoing discussions over the issue, Russian criticism of the program has continued,
edged, at times, with sarcasm. During an October 2007 visit to Moscow by Secretaries Gates and
Rice, President Putin remarked “of course we can sometime in the future decide that some anti-
missile defense system should be established somewhere on the moon.” Putin later likened the
66 U.S. Radar Not To Threaten Russia, China - Czech Chief Of Staff. CTK Daily News. January 25, 2007.
67 Putin Wants Quick Answer On Alternative Antimissile Site. RFE/RL Newsline. June 11, 2007. Putin Surprises Bush
With Plan On Missile Shield. New York Times. June 8, 2007. US Says Russia Offer Cannot Replace Missile Shield.
Reuters. June 14, 2007.
68 Putin Expands On His Missile Defense Plan. New York Times. July 3, 2007/ Putin Proposes Broader Cooperation On
Missile Defense. Washington Post. July 3, 2007.
U.S. placement of the missile defense facilities in central Europe to the 1962 Cuban missile
crisis—a comparison disputed by U.S. officials. In late November 2007, Russia rejected a written
U.S. proposal on the project, arguing that it failed to include the points Secretary Gates had
discussed a month earlier, including “joint assessment of threats, ... Russian experts’ presence at
missile shield’s sites, [and] readiness to keep the system non-operational if there is no actual 69
missile threat.... ” In December, the chief of Russia’s army suggested that the launching of U.S.
missile defense interceptors against Iranian missiles might inadvertently provoke a counter launch
of Russian ICBMs aimed at the United States. However, critics assert that a Russian counterstrike
could not be prompted so easily and mistakenly. In February 2008, Putin reiterated earlier
warnings that, if construction commenced on the missile defense facilities, Russia would re-target 70
ICBMs toward the missile sites.
During President Bush’s post-Bucharest meeting with Putin at the Russian resort of Sochi, the
two leaders reportedly sought to find common ground on missile defense; they agreed to
introduce greater transparency in the project, and to explore possible confidence-building
measures. In the meantime, Russia remains opposed to the proposed European bases. The two
sides agreed to “intensify” their dialogue on missile defense cooperation. After the meeting,
however, Iran’s ambassador to Poland warned that if the missile defense system is installed, “the 71
United States will acquire supremacy over Russian nuclear forces.”
Following the signing of the U.S.-Poland agreement, Russia once more vociferously objected to
the missile defense plan. On August 16, a highly placed Russian general officer stated that
Poland’s acceptance of the interceptors could make it a target for a nuclear attack. Later, newly
inaugurated President Dmity Medvedev reiterated Russia’s conviction that the interceptors
constitute a threat, and added that Moscow “will have to respond to it in some way, naturally
using military means.” On August 20, it was also announced that the governments of Russia and
Belarus had launched discussions on the establishment of a joint air defense system; the move
was interpreted by ITAR-TASS as a “retaliatory measure” in response to the planned U.S. missile 72
The day after the U.S. elections, in his State of the Federation speech, President Medvedev said
that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missiles to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad,
which borders Poland and Lithuania, if the U.S. GMD system is built. However, Medvedev later
told a French newspaper that it the United States does not deploy the system, Russia would not
transfer its missiles to Kaliningrad. Prime Minister Putin later reiterated that Russia would scrap 73
its plans for the Iskanders if the United States cancelled its European GMD project. Some
observers believe that the announcement created more concern in central than in western Europe.
69 Putin Dismisses US Missile Shield Plan. Financial Times. October 12, 2007. Russia Dismisses US Offer On Missile
Defence. AFP. November 23, 2007. Russia Alleges U.S. “Rollback” On Anti-Missile Plan. Washington Post.
December 6, 2007.
70 US Missile Could Trigger Russian Strike: Russian Army Chief. Agence Presse France. December 15, 2007. Putin
Repeats Threat To Aim Russian Rockets At U.S. Missile Defenses. Associated Press Newswires. February 14, 20080.
71 Putin and Bush Narrow Some Differences. Oxford Analytica. April 7, 2008. U.S. To Gain Supremacy Over Russia
With Central European Anti-missile Base—Iranian Ambassador. Poland Business Newswire. April 9, 2008. Fact Sheet:
U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration. News Press. April 7, 2008.
72 Russian Says Shield Makes Poland Target. Washington Times. August 16, 2008. Medvedev Sees Military Response
To U.S. Missile Shield. Reuters. August 26, 2008. Moscow, Minsk To Build Air Def In Response To Missiles In
Europe. ITAR-TASS. August 20, 2008.
73 Putin Offers To End Stand-Off Over Missiles In Eastern Europe. DPA/Deutsche Welle. November 24, 2008.
Shortly thereafter, however, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stated that
“cold war rhetoric” was “stupid,” and U.S. Defense Secretary Gates states that “such provocative 74
remarks are unnecessary and misguided.”
In mid-November 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy recommended that the U.S. and
Russian plans be discussed by NATO and the OSCE in the spring of 2009, and that, “until then
we should not talk about missile or shield deployments which lead to nothing for security, which
complicate things and rather make things go backwards.” Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr
Vondra criticized Sarkozy’s remarks as inappropriate, and Polish Prime Minister Tusk stated that
GMD was a Polish-U.S. project, and that “I don’t think that third countries, even such good
friends as France, can have a particular right to express themselves on this issue.” Sarkozy later
appeared to backtrack somewhat, saying “every country is sovereign to decide whether it hosts an 75
anti-missile shield or not.”
Some observers believe that the ongoing dialog between Russia and the United States may help
reduce tensions. Eventual Russian cooperation in missile defense could remove a significant
impediment to the program and could dampen criticism by European and other leaders. It also
may open the door to a more favorable attitude by NATO toward missile defense.
For FY2009, the Bush Administration requested $712 million for the European GMD Element.
The reported cost of the European element is $4 billion (FY2008-FY2013), according to the
Administration, which includes fielding and Operation and Support costs.
On May 14, 2008, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the FY2009
defense authorization bill (H.R. 5658). The committee provided $341 million for the proposed
European GMD site, reducing the total by $371 million ($231 million in R&D funding and $140
million in Military Construction). The committee expressed concerns about the slower-than-
expected pace of the Iranian long-range missile program, the effectiveness of the GMD system
based on program testing results, the ability to spend the proposed funds, and the lack of signed
and ratified agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic.
On April 30, 2008, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the FY2009
defense authorization bill (S. 3001). The committee provided full funding for the European GMD
Element, but noted that certain conditions have to be met before those funds could be expended:
(1) military construction funds cannot be spent until the European governments give final
approval (including parliamentary approval) of any deployment agreement, and 45 days have
elapsed after Congress has received a required report that provides an independent analysis of the
proposed European site and alternatives, and (2) acquisition and deployment funds, other than for
74 Europe Split Over Russia’s Tough Talk On Missiles. Washington Post. November 9, 2008. Gates and European
officials Criticize the Russian President For His Bellicose Remarks. New York Times. November 14, 2008.
75 France urges Russia and US To End Missile Feud. Agence France Presse. November 14, 2008. Poles, Czechs Brush
Aside Sarkozy Missile Plea. Agence France Presse. November 15, 2008. France “Overstepped Mandate” On Missile
Shield. euobserver.com November 17, 2008.
long-lead procurement, cannot be expended until the Secretary of Defense (with input from the
Dir., Operational Test and Operations) certifies to Congress that the proposed interceptor has
demonstrated a high probability of accomplishing its mission in an operationally effective
President Bush signed a continuing resolution into law on September 30, 2008 (P.L. 110-329),
which incorporated defense appropriations and authorizing language for FY2009. According to a
Press Release from the Senate Appropriations Committee dated September 24, 2008, Congress
provided $467 million for the European BMD sites and development and testing of the two-stage 76
interceptor. According to authorizing language, funding for the Czech radar and site will then be
available only after the Czech Parliament has ratified the basing agreement reached with the
United States and a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to allow for such deployment and
stationing of U.S. troops is in place. Funding for the Polish interceptor site will only be available
after both the Czech and Polish parliaments ratify the agreements reached with the United States,
and a SOFA with Poland is also in place for the site. Additionally, deployment of operational
GBIs is prohibited until after the Secretary of Defense (after receiving the views of the Director
of Operational Test and Evaluation) submits to Congress a report certifying that the proposed
interceptor to be deployed “has demonstrated, through successful, operationally realistic flight
testing, a high probability of working in an operationally effective manner and the ability to
accomplish the mission.”
In its report on the FY2008 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee
cited its concern from last year (FY2007) that investment in the European BMD site was 77
premature. In part, the Committee’s concerns focus on the need to complete scheduled
integrated end-to-end testing of the system now deployed in Alaska and California. Additionally,
the Committee notes its reluctance to fund the European site without formal agreements with
Poland and the Czech Republic and without knowing the terms under which the estimated $4
billion program costs would be expended. Therefore, the Committee recommended that no funds 78
be approved for FY2008 for construction of the European GMD site. The Committee did,
however, recommend $42.7 million to continue procurement of ten additional GMD interceptors
that could be deployed to the European site or for expanded inventory at the GMD site in Alaska
(as noted in MDA budget documents). Also, the Committee expressed concern over the testing
plan and risk reduction strategy for the proposed two-stage GMD interceptor for Europe. The
Committee further directed that two studies be done: (1) the Secretary of Defense and the
Secretary of State are to submit a report to Congress by January 31, 2008, to include how the
Administration will obtain NATO’s support for the European GMD proposal, and how other
missile defense capabilities such as Aegis and THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense)
76 Congressional Record – House, September 24, 2008, p. H9103.
77 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Report of the House Armed Services Committee on H.R.
1585, May 11, 2007. House of Representatives. 110th Congress, 1st Session. H.Rept. 110-146, pp. 238-240.
78 To preserve the opportunity to move forward with the research and development components of the European
interceptor and radar site, the Committee recommended that $150 million for FY2008 be available. Upon completion of
bilateral agreements and if further engagement with NATO on the proposed site can be demonstrated, the Committee
notes that the Department of Defense has the option of submitting a reprogramming request to Congress in FY2008 to
fund site preparation activities.
could contribute to the missile defense protection of Europe; and (2) an independent assessment
of European missile defense options should be done in a timely manner.
In the Senate defense authorization bill, the Armed Services Committee recommended limiting
the availability of funding for the European GMD site until two conditions were met: (1)
completion of bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic; and (2) 45 days have
elapsed following the receipt by Congress of a report from an FFRDC (federally funded research
and development center) to conduct an independent assessment of options for missile defense of 79
Europe. The Committee recommended a reduction of $85 million for site activation and
construction activities for the proposed European GMD deployment. The Committee also limited
FY2008 funding for acquisition or deployment of operational interceptor missiles for the
European system until the Secretary of Defense certified to Congress that the proposed
interceptor to be deployed had demonstrated, through successful, operationally realistic flight
testing, that it had a high probability of working in an operationally effective manner. The
Committee noted that the proposed 2-stage version of the interceptor has not been developed and 80
was not scheduled to be tested until 2010. Therefore, the Committee noted, it could be several
years before it is known if the proposed interceptor will work in an operationally effective
manner. The Committee indicated that it would not limit site surveys, studies, analysis, planning
and design for the proposed European GMD site, but that construction and deployment could not
take place prior to ratification of formal bilateral agreements, which MDA estimates would not
take place before 2009. Finally, the Committee notes there were a number of near-term missile
defense options to provide defense of Europe against short-range, medium-range and future
intermediate-range ballistic missiles, such as the Patriot PAC-3, the Aegis BMD system, and
In floor debate, the Senate approved an amendment by Senator Sessions (90-5) to the defense
authorization bill stating that the policy of the United States is to develop and deploy an effective
defense system against the threat of an Iranian nuclear missile attack against the United States
and its European allies. Further debate and passage of the defense authorization bill was
postponed at the time by the Majority Leader until after debate over Iraq war funding.
On November 13, 2007, President Bush signed into law the FY2008 Defense Appropriations Bill
(H.R. 3222; P.L. 110-114). This bill eliminated the proposed $85 million for FY2008 for the
European missile defense site construction, but permitted $225 million for studies, analyses, etc.
of the proposed European GMD element.
The House passed the FY2008 National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1585) on May 17, 2007.
The Senate passed its version on October 1, 2007. House and Senate negotiators filed the defense
authorization report on December 6, 2007. The House adopted the report on December 12, 2007.
The Conference Report contained a number of provisions pertaining to the proposed European
GMD element. First, it cut the $85 million requested for site activation and construction
activities. This left about $225 million to fund surveys, studies, analysis, etc. related to the
European GMD element in FY2008. Second, the Conference Report required an independent
assessment of the proposed deployment of long-range missile defense interceptors and associated
79 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Report of the Senate Armed Services Committee on S.
1547, June 5, 2007. Committee on Armed Services. U.S. Senate. 110th Congress, 1st Session. Report 110-77, pp. 140-
80 See footnote 9.
radar in Europe and a second independent analysis of missile defense options in Europe before
site construction and activation could begin. The conferees noted that if the Polish and Czech
governments gave final approval to any successfully completed agreements during FY2008, the
Department of Defense had the option of submitting a reprogramming request for those funds
($85 million) to begin site construction in Europe. Third, the conferees strongly supported the
need to work closely and in coordination with NATO on missile defense issues. Finally, the
defense authorization bill required that the Secretary of Defense certify that the proposed two-
stage interceptor “has demonstrated, through successful, operationally realistic flight testing, a
high probability of working in an operationally effective manner” before funds could be
authorized for the acquisition or deployment of operational missiles for the European site.
Steven A. Hildreth Carl Ek
Specialist in Missile Defense Specialist in International Relations
email@example.com, 7-7635 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7286