Dear Members and Friends,
The President of Romania, Mr. Traian Basescu, announced his willingness to negotiate terms with the United States to host a U.S. Land-based Aegis Ashore Missile Defense system last week. Basescu stated that the proposed system could be in place by 2015. The formal invitation for cooperation came directly from President Barack Obama and was initiated by Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Romania in October 2009. The potential addition of another international partner in missile defense is a welcome movement towards a global missile defense community. There are now 40 countries participating, including Romania, with the United States on missile defense.
This Romanian proposal does have serious challenges, both politically and technically, to be a sound investment of United States tax dollars and in its alignment with the President’s Missile Defense plan.
The President’s Plan calls for sea- and land-based Missile Defense assets to collectively protect Europe in a phased adaptive approach that could cost of upwards of $9 Billion or more. Financial participation by NATO and European countries towards this plan that protects Europe from Iran is non-existent. Under the previous Administrations’ plans, short- and medium-range ballistic missile defense of Europe had financial contributions from NATO members. The United States was supporting those efforts and focused on solely financing the proposed long-range ballistic missile protection in Poland and the Czech Republic which would of protected the U.S. Homeland and Northern Europe. It would be a mistake not to have European participation in financing the President’s plan and to rely completely on US tax dollars from the American Public to fund a system that protects Europe but not the United States.
Placing the proposed capability by 2015 in Romania with the current sea -based defensive missiles (SM3 Block 1A) and a future proposed (SM3 Block 1B) which has yet to be tested, can only technically provide fixed protection of a few nearby countries from an Iranian ballistic missile threat. Iran’s intermediate-range missile system currently in development, the Shahab-3 (with a 1200 mile range), will severely challenge the system in Romania as projected. This is due to the narrow defended area that its capability can provide. Requirements for the proposed site in Romania and the Land -based Aegis Ashore system have not been set. More importantly the entire test platform that will be required to prove out the system and prior to deployment in Romania has not begun construction; it is designated to be built at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.
Sensitive issues will remain with the Romanian Proposal as future adoption and integration of remote sensors coupled with the future capabilities of faster and more adept interceptors could lead to a much more enhanced site. This could lead to a system with the potential to have more capability than the canceled site in Poland or the current capabilities our country now has in place. Because of time and development this would most likely be a decision made by the next Administration.
Romania, as well as the United States, will have to question the proposal thoroughly or Romania will be jilted at the altar to the delight of Russia; alongside the former suitors, Poland and the Czech Republic.
We look forward to their thinking through of the final decision.