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2009 National Security and Nonproliferation Briefing Book

16.3.2009 - Peace and Security Initiative
The 2009 National Security and Nonproliferation Briefing Book is a project coordinated by the Peace and Security Initiative (PSI), and generously supported by the Connect US Fund. PSI is a coalition of over 250 advocacy organizations, grassroots groups, think tanks, academics, and funders working together to increase their capacity to influence U.S. policy to promote a more secure, peaceful, and just world. More information about PSI can be found at


Each paper is written by one or more distinguished experts.


In short, this briefing book is a primer and guide for the next presidency.


By Philip Coyle, Senior Advisor, Center for Defense Information. Reviewd by Gen. Robert G. Gard, Jr. (Ret.), Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, and Victoria Samson, Senior Analyst, Center for Defense Information.

Department of Defense (DOD) plans for establishing missile defenses in Europe have caused a serious strain in U.S.–Russian relations not seen since the Cold War. Dealing with this controversial project will be the most pressing item on the missile defense agenda for the next U.S. president.


Missile defense is the most expensive defense acquisition program in history. Since President Reagan’s famous ‘Star Wars” speech in 1983, the United States has spent at least $120 billion on missile defense.


The Bush administration had hoped to develop missile defenses to deal with missiles of all ranges, in all phases of flight, with interceptors launched from land, sea, and air (the Airborne Laser), and from space. Particularly controversial is the Bush administration’s proposal to establish a missile defense network in Europe with interceptors in Poland, a fixed radar in the Czech Republic, and a second portable radar somewhere in southeastern Europe (location to be determined).

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- Iran is not so reckless as to attack Europe or the United States. There is no believable threat to Europe from Iran to justify U.S. missile defenses in Europe, and North Korea is negotiating an end to its nuclear programs.

- Proposed U.S. missile defenses in Europe are threatening to Russia, and are threatening to reignite Cold War-style tensions with Russia. Proposed space-based missile defenses are also threatening to Russia, as well as China.

- The MDA claims to be able to handle at best one or possibly two missiles from Iran, assuming Iran does not use decoys or countermeasures. If Iran believed that U.S. missile defenses were effective, they would simply build more missiles. This would not lead to a safer world.

- U.S. missile defenses have no demonstrated effectiveness to defend Europe or the U.S. under realistic operational conditions. U.S. missile defenses lack the ability to deal with decoys and countermeasures, lack demonstrated effectiveness under realistic operational conditions, and lack the ability to handle attacks involving multiple missiles. MDA Director Lt. Gen. Henry Obering testified before Congress in 2007 that 40 Aegis ships (at a cost of about $2 billion each, not including 20 interceptors per ship) could protect only half of Europe and none of Central Europe.


Since the George W. Bush administration proposed deploying missile defenses in Europe, the Congress has restrained spending on the proposed system and zeroed funding for site preparation and construction in Europe.


The next president and/or the Congress should cancel the U.S. missile defense system proposed for Europe. To minimize the embarrassment to Poland and the Czech Republic for buying into an unworkable system, and to avoid criticism that the administration is buckling under to Russian pressure, the president should undertake a sequence of scientific and technical reviews, policy and budget decisions. The Congress could do this through annual appropriations and authorization bills.  

Source (American): 2009 National Security and Nonproliferation Briefing Book. Prepared by Peace and Security Initiative, November 2008 

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