US Changes Course on Missile Defense

September 17, 2009, President Obama announces that the U.S. will change course on Eastern European Missile Defense Shield

STATEMENT BY RIKI ELLISON, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF THE MISSILE DEFENSE ADVOCACY ALLIANCE ON TODAY’S MISSILE DEFENSE ANNOUNCEMENT

“The withdrawal of the missile defense sites in Europe and introduction of a new missile defense architecture addresses the second and third priorities of missile defense stated today by the JCS and Pentagon of protection for deployed troops and allies but does not address the first stated priority which is the missile defense protection of the United States Homeland. The equal protection of the Eastern United States from long range ballistic missiles from Iran must be addressed as it is not equal to that of the protection provided today for the rest of the country from long range ballistic missiles. The European third site addressed the protection of the Eastern Seaboard of the US Homeland, the new architecture does not.” -Riki Ellison

“After an extensive process, I have approved the unanimous recommendations of my secretary of defense and my joint chiefs of staff to strengthen America’s defenses against ballistic-missile attack,” President Obama said.

“Our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s allies,” Mr. Obama said. “It is more comprehensive than the previous program, it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost effective, and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland.”

Gates said the decision to abandon the Bush administration’s plans came about because of a change in the U.S. perception of the threat posed by Iran. According to Gates U.S. intelligence advised that short- and medium-range missiles from Iran now pose a greater near-term threat than the intercontinental ballistic missiles the Bush plan addressed.

Gen. Cartwright says that the changes to U.S. plans are necessary because initial planning was only to prevent attacks by a “rogue nation” with a small number of missiles. He says that the threat now, from countries like North Korea and Iran, is more on the order of hundreds of missiles.

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