New START treaty reignites Russian missile controversy

Laurent Rathborn
Posted: 03/08/2011
Negotiations continue between Russia and the United States over the latter’s plan for a missile defence shield. Cooperation is at a high thanks largely to the "reset" in diplomatic relations occasioned by the recent ratification of the New START treaty by both sides, but serious stumbling blocks remain in the shape of the latter’s plans for missile defence.

Current US doctrine has elements of an ABM shield scattered over Europe, and Russia is currently seeking to buy into the shield-building process. However, diplomatic efforts to secure a tie-in have so far been rebuffed. "Our Nato partners are refusing to assign Russia an equal role in the general design of a European missile defence system," states Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s senior NATO representative.
"We will not tolerate a situation in which we would have to join an already finished system ," he added, stressing Russia’s desire to contribute to the project, which would shield against rogue nuclear states. The US has recently backed away from plans to site elements of the system in Poland due to Russian opposition. Talks on the situation between Vice President Biden and President Medvedev are due later this week.

Meanwhile, India continues to successfully test its own ABM shield. Last Sunday saw the system successfully intercept a Prithvi II missile test-fired from a launch point 70km away. The intercept took place at an altitude of 16km. SP Dash, Director of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, commented that "It was a fantastic mission. It successfully hit the target.
The interceptor intercepted the ballistic missile and blasted it into pieces." India’s domestic missile defence programme has been undergoing tests for a number of years, and the latest round confirms that it is on track for the next phase of development, allowing interceptions from further away and at higher altitudes.

Laurent Rathborn
Posted: 03/08/2011

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