Russian Control of U.S. Missile Defenses? Just Say No

According to The Telegraph of London on April 8, Russia is demanding direct operational control of U.S. and allied missile defense systems in negotiations regarding missile defense cooperation.

While the U.S. is right to be seeking Russian cooperation in the area of missile defense—more defensive strategic postures would benefit both the U.S. and Russia in addressing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the missiles used to deliver them—the U.S. should reject this Russian demand.

The Russian demand defies rational explanation. The missile defense system will serve only one purpose: to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles already launched at a target. In this context, the Russians cannot believe that U.S. and allied operation of a missile defense system will pose a threat to them unless they think they need to threaten both with a nuclear-armed missile attack. If this is the basis of Russian thinking, then this negotiation is about anything but cooperation. Genuine cooperation in the realm of missile defense is not about the possession of capabilities by the U.S., U.S. allies, or Russia; it is about all three parties standing together in the intention to oppose aggression through the use of ballistic missiles by rogue states.



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