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Romania: U.S. Expands Missile Shield Into Black Sea

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Romania: U.S. Expands Missile Shield Into Black Sea
Rick Rozoff

When Romanian President Traian Basescu disclosed on February 4 that his nation's Supreme Defense Council had "approved a U.S. proposal that Romania takes part in the anti-rocket shield system" and that "Terrestrial interceptors will be located inside the national territory," [1] many readers may have been taken by surprise.

They need not have been, though, as the expansion of the U.S. global, layered, integrated interceptor missile system into the Black Sea was as foreseeable as it is inevitable.

Previous articles in this series forecast just such an eventuality. Just that certainty. [2]

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Later on the 4th when a better translation of Basescu's comments was available, the New York Times confirmed that the Romanian head of state pledged that his nation "was prepared to negotiate with the United States to accept ground-based interceptors as part of an antiballistic missile defense system. He said it could be working by 2015."

Basescu added that "the proposal accepted by the Supreme Defense Council came from President Obama, whose under secretary of state for arms control and international security, Ellen O. Tauscher, was in Romania." [3]

That he stipulated the year 2015 and mentioned the State Department's Tauscher are both significant facts. Tauscher signed the agreement with Polish Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski last December to deploy American mid-range interceptor missiles and troops to the Eastern European nation. Two weeks ago Komorowski's ministry announced that U.S. Patriot missiles and troops would be stationed at a Baltic Sea site only 35 miles from Russia's Kaliningrad exclave.

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Russia was no more pleased with that news than about U.S. ground-based missiles being stationed in Romania, as will be seen later.

Keeping in mind Tauscher's longstanding role in promoting American interceptor missile plans in Europe, which will be examined in detail further on, the State Department nonetheless formally describes her role as Senior Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament.

Last year, two days after President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced on the same day, September 17, that the U.S. was abandoning plans to station ten ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and transfer a modified X-band missile radar from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean to the Czech Republic, Gates described in the New York Times the alternative project, what Obama characterized as a "stronger, swifter, and smarter" missile shield program far broader in scope and intent than his predecessor's.

Gates wrote of a three-phase plan that would begin with "proven, sea-based SM-3 [Standard Missile-3] interceptor missiles weapons that are growing in capability," then be followed by a "second phase, which will become operational around 2015" and "involve putting upgraded SM-3s on the ground in Southern and Central Europe. All told, every phase of this plan will include scores of SM-3 missiles, as opposed to the old plan of just 10 ground-based interceptors...." [4]

While deploying scores - 40, 60, 80, 100? - of SM-3 interceptor missiles adapted for ground deployment in both the south and east of Europe (by Central Europe read Eastern Europe), "our military will continue research and development on a two-stage ground-based interceptor, the kind that was planned to be put in Poland, as a back-up," Gates added. [5]

The White House and the Pentagon had not retreated an inch on plans to establish an impenetrable missile shield along Russia's western borders, one that could potentially threaten the nation's strategic forces and disable its ability to retaliate and so credibly maintain a deterrence capability. In fact, as Gates explicitly stated, plans for ten ground-based midcourse missiles in Poland are to be superseded by several times more SM-3 and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 [PAC-3] anti-ballistic missiles as well as a proposed 50,000-pound mobile missile launcher [6] and ground-based missiles in the final analysis anyway.

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Shortly after the official shift in U.S. interceptor plans in Europe - and beyond into the Caucasus, the Middle East and even further - Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher put to rest hopes that even the Polish and Czech locations would be left out of wider-ranging plans. At a symposium hosted by the pro-NATO Atlantic Council, one also addressed by the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, Tauscher delivered a speech which the Washington Post commented on as follows:

"The undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Ellen Tauscher...said discussions are already underway with Poland to base missiles there, and talks have begun with the Czech Republic about making it the headquarters for command and control elements associated with the system.

"Tauscher said European allies, who were initially troubled by the hasty announcement canceling the George W. Bush-era system, have come to support the Obama administration's plan, which would permit earlier deployment and provide wider coverage than the earlier one."

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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