Tags: obama | russia | missiles

Obama Faces New Russian Missile Threat

Thursday, 06 Nov 2008 04:47 PM

By Nat Helms

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The Russian Federation didn’t waste any time challenging the kinder and gentler administration of President-elect Barack Obama by threatening to place high-tech guided missiles on Russia’s western border, according to the Russian news service Novosti.

Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev has promised to place sophisticated short-range SS-26 “Iskander” offensive missiles on Russia’s western border to counter the American-made missile defense system already in Poland and planned for the Czech Republic, Novosti quoted Russia’s new president as saying.

Medevdev also plans to leave in place three regiments of nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles the Russians had scheduled to take out of service, Novosti reported.

Last summer the Bush Administration entered into treaties with the Czech Republic and Poland to deploy Boeing no-name Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missiles to counter Iranian medium range missiles that can target Europe. The GBI is a silo stored and launched missile interceptor with the capability to reach far into space, Boeing says.

Poland is already preparing to deploy the first GBI missile system, a two-stage variant of the suppossedly super accurate anti-missile missile, according to Riki Ellison, president of the Virginia-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

The MDAA is a joint advocacy/watchdog group with strong business and diplomatic ties to Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic, Ellison said.

The Boeing GBI anti-missile system is optimized for the role of an “exoatmospheric (outside the atmosphere) interceptor,” according to Boeing literature.

In his first speech to the Russian Federal Assembly Wednesday, Medvedev said he intended to place the tactical missiles in Kaliningrad, on Russia’s western border, Novosti reported.

"An Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad Region to neutralize if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe," Medvedev said in his first state of the nation address to Russia’s parliament.

The roughly 8,000 pound, 25-foot long Russian missile was used against Georgian forces with telling effect two months ago during the brief war between the tiny democratic republic and its giant northern neighbor. Armed with a variety of GPS guided conventional warheads, including cluster bomb submunitions, it was used to take out fixed and mobile targets, both Georgian authorities and human rights agencies reported.

The shorter range export version of the SS-26 – called the Iskander –E, was first displayed in 1999. Syria was reported as a potential buyer in 2005. It has already ordered 12 missiles and “a total of 60 missiles may be purchased by 2010,” according to Russian news sources.

Medvedev also said that Russia had cancelled plans to take three missile regiments out of service in a region to the west of Moscow, the Russian news service reported.

"We earlier planned to remove three missile regiments of a missile division deployed in Kozelsk [Kaluga Region] from combat duty and disband the division by 2010. I have made a decision to withdraw these plans," Novosti reported Medvedev as saying, noting that Russia had been “forced” to take this measure.

The RS-18 “Stiletto”, a two-stage rocket, is one of the most advanced ballistic missiles deployed by Russia. With the launch weight of slightly above 105 tons, the Stiletto is capable of delivering either six warheads from a multiple deliver system or single warhead weighing as much as 9,260 pounds at intercontinental range, the Russians say.

The missile, which is around 75 feet long and eight feet in diameter, is equipped with a modern control system and anti-missile defense penetration aids with a range of 6,200 miles, the Russian news service Itar-Tass reported.

While serving as the junior senator from Illinois in 2005 Obama voted for an amendment to a missile defense bill offered by Sen. Carl Levin in 2005.

When Bush was promoting the anti-missile shield for Eastern Obama was lukewarm on the subject.

At the time he indicated he would not allow a missile defense treaty "to divide 'new Europe' and 'old Europe.'" He also suggested that: "If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies, we should -- but only when the system works."

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