06 January 2008

What is going on in the nuclear arms race??

UPI Outside View Commentator
MOSCOW, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The national ABM has crossed the boundaries of Russian-U.S. relations and, to all appearances, will soon acquire larger global significance now that Japan is following the American footsteps to establish its own sea- and land-based ABM system.

The plan was already announced and is rapidly being built up.

Only one Japanese destroyer will be on combat duty in the Sea of Japan for now. It carries U.S.-made SM-3 missiles, which successfully completed recent tests. Japan intends to have four similar ships with anti-missiles and Aegis systems designed to detect a big number of flying targets by the spring of 2011.

They will comprise a national sea-based ABM. The second, land-based echelon will be armed with the latest Patriot air-defense systems. Two air-defense batteries have already been deployed near Tokyo. The Japanese ABM will spread much wider by 2010, with approximately 30 such batteries in 11 bases in every part of the country.

The Japanese plan alarm Russia and China, who say it will inevitably trigger an arms race in the region. Tokyo is turning a deaf ear to the warnings. It has something worse to think of -- North Korea with its 200 ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in the whole of Japan. But then Russia and China are larger and stronger than North Korea and have formidable missile arsenals of their own, so it is unwise to ignore them.

Moscow and Beijing have no legal grounds to protest such plans, Japanese or any other country's, with the United States being the only exception, to a certain extent. The Moscow-Washington controversy over U.S. intentions to deploy its missile defense elements in Europe is widely known, as well as both parties' arguments for and against it. In particular, Russia points to the ABM Treaty, which is no longer in effect because of U.S. actions. A similar treaty would provide a sound alternative to missile defense shields, Moscow insists.

The Soviet Union and the United States signed the ABM Treaty in 1972. It bound the signatories, each with a huge offensive nuclear potential, to limit the use of ABM systems. As they saw it, mutual rejection of missile defense systems was the best barrier to the strategic offensive arms race. ABM limitations reduced the motivation for SNF buildup. That was the idea. Thus, the treaty was a practical reflection of the concept of nuclear deterrence.

Japan was not part of the treaty, but then it has no means of nuclear deterrence, though it certainly needs protection against tentative missile attacks. Its emergent ABM system is strictly within the realm of self-defense.

This situation can be repeated elsewhere. Israel intends to establish its own ABM system, the Iron Dome, to intercept short-range missiles from the Gaza Strip and longer-range missiles from Iran or Syria. In doing this, Tel Aviv proceeds from national, not Russian or American, interests.

European NATO countries may also follow suit. The European ABM idea comes from them. Whether Moscow likes it or not, a continental ABM system can appear tomorrow, if not today.

Now, the Luxembourg Declaration for the Prevention of Nuclear Catastrophe, recently drafted by a team of international disarmament experts, Russians among them, recommends urgent measures to ward off a nuclear crisis -- in particular, to place smaller emphasis on nuclear deterrence and step up international cooperation for ABM development.

The Russian-U.S. Joint Declaration on a New Relationship, signed in 2002, bound the signatories to take stock of the opportunities for practical ABM partnership in Europe. They also announced their intentions to reduce their strategic offensive forces to a minimum.

In other words, Moscow and Washington concluded in the declaration that the nuclear deterrence principle -- the basis of the ABM Treaty -- was outdated. The world situation instead demanded new instruments to provide national security and reflect the new Russian-U.S. strategic relations.

see also,


Russia to set up missile shield for Iran Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: Russia will set up a massive anti-missile shield in Iran that will virtually guarantee the country against military attacks.

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