The Obama administration has rejected Russia’s proposal for an agreement imposing legally binding limits on U.S. missile defense, The Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday.
A State Department official said the Russian plan, offered in December, was rejected because the administration could not accept Moscow’s demand that Washington agree to legal limits on missile defenses in Europe. The proposal included restrictions on the deployment of Aegis missile defense ships.
The official said Moscow continues to demand that Washington provide “legally binding guarantees that would create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems against regional ballistic missile threats such as those from Iran and North Korea.”
He said the United States “cannot and will not accept any obligations that limit our ability to defend ourselves, our allies and our partners, including where we deploy our [ballistic missile defense] capable Aegis ships.”
Additionally, Russian military intervention in Ukraine “led to the suspension of our military-to-military dialogue and we are not currently engaging Russia on the topic of missile defense,” the official said.
The U.S. missile defense program in Europe focuses on countering long-range threats from North Korea and Iran.
In September 2009, the Obama administration launched its “phased, adaptive approach missile defense plan” for Europe, which called for deploying “increasingly capable” interceptors in four phases.
The Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz writes that the Obama administration, “in an effort to appease Moscow, last year dropped the fourth phase that would have involved the most effective defenses capable of defending the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).”
The United States is enhancing its missile-defense capabilities by adding ground-based interceptors in Alaska, deploying radars and sensors, and adding missile defense interceptor ships.
Congressional defense aides and Pentagon officials have said gaining access to U.S. technology was Russia’s main reason for engaging in missile-defense cooperation.
In its draft of the 2015 defense authorization bill, completed on Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee voted to limit the Pentagon’s ability to provide Russia with sensitive data on missile-defense capabilities that could enable the Kremlin to devise countermeasures to thwart U.S. defenses.
The Obama administration had considered providing classified data to Moscow in an effort to assuage Russian concerns about Western missile defenses.
Russia has embarked on a military modernization program that includes the development of strategic missiles aimed at defeating U.S. defenses. U.S. officials said Moscow’s flight test last month of the RS-24M, a new, multiple-warhead ICBM, is part of this program.
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