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Interview :: International
Cold Peace-The US Missile Shield and its Consequences
19 Sep 2008
The planned US missile shield undermines the so-called second-strike capacity. It shifts the nuclear balance in favor of the US. The West gave assurances to the Moscow government after Russian troops were withdrawn from East Germany.

By Markus Schmidt and Andreas Orth

[This article published in: Monitor, September 4, 2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

Sonia Mikich: Welcome to Monitor. Twenty years ago the world was divided into East and West, black and white. Then the time of political embraces occurred, disarmament treaties, partnership agreements and more security, particularly for Europeans. The time of fear was over. Since the brief war in Georgia, everything looks different. We have reason to worry. The new slogan “cold peace” is in effect. One reason is the planned American missile shield in Eastern Europe very densely on Russia’s border. My colleagues see our security dangerously disturbed.

The Pentagon recruits for its new defense system. Iran could attack. A war scenario of movie quality is presented. US radar stations apprehend the threat in a nuclear strike against Europe. The US defense missiles do their job. Europe is successfully rescued.

From here, Europe should be saved. At Redzikowo, Poland at the Black Sea, a former airbase of the Warsaw Pact, 120 miles from the Russian border, the US will build a base for defensive missiles with over 1000 American soldiers. For the Russian government, this is a provocation. Will we in Europe be more secure? Many who live near the base do not believe this.

Resident: Haven’t you heard what the Russian generals said? We in Redzikowo will be the first target in an armed conflict. I don’t need that, thanks!

Resident: I don’t know but I feel deep in my heart stationing the missiles here is not right.

Fears are promoted as in the Cold War. We speak with the foreign minister of German unity. An unprecedented phase of détente and disarmament began with the signing of the unification treaty. Thousands of nuclear warheads disappeared in the East and West. Today Hans-Dietrich Genscher, foreign German foreign minister: “This missile shield can lead to a new arms race. This missile screen will affect strategic stability. Other missiles may be stationed alongside this missile screen, patriot missiles and more weapons. I consider this a very dangerous development.

What is dangerous here, the US government protests? Russia is not threatened. The new missile defense is only directed against rogue states like Iran. The radar in Chechnya and the defensive missiles in Poland will only intercept their missiles. But will the system do what the US government promises Europe?

In Boston at the world-renown MIT – Institute of Technology, we spoke with the physicist Theodore Postol, one of the few missile experts who has evaluated and can judge the technical data of the future missile screen. His conclusion is that the US government deceives and tricks. Deception number one: the planned radar is blind for inter-continental missiles from Iran. The range of the radar is too small to track incoming Iranian missiles.

Prof. Theodore Postol, MIT-Boston: The technical data on the radar only allows one conclusion. What the MDA in the pentagon promises cannot be true.

Deception number two in these Pentagon documents written for European governments is striking. It is claimed the defensive missiles in Poland are much too slow to repel Russian intercontinental missiles.

This is also false according to Postol’s calculations on the thrust of defensive missiles and the orbits of Russian long-range missiles.

Prof. Theodore Postol, MIT-Boston: My research conclusions are clear: The defensive missiles in Poland can detect Russian intercontinental missiles in the western part of the country.

The Russian intercontinental missiles are crucial. Since the times of the Cold War, these missiles have been Russia’s strategic security in the case of a nuclear war with the US. The planned missile shield of the US undermines the so-called second-strike capacity. It shifts the nuclear balance in favor of the US. In the past, whoever shot first died second. Whoever breaks this with a new weapon massively and strategically provokes the other side.

Frank Elbe, former director of planning in foreign affairs: The missiles are objectively suited to undermine Russia’s second-strike capacity. This forces changes in strategic systems.

Frank Elbe is a disarmament expert. For years, he negotiated with Russia for the German government. He is regarded as one of the most important top officials on reunification. As one result, the Russian troops withdrew from East Germany. The Soviet Union had earlier accepted united Germany with the former DDR (East Germany) as a NATO area. In return, the West gave the government in Moscow reliable assurances: no nuclear weapons on the soil of the former DDR and no foreign NATO troops stationed in East Germany. A few years later, NATO expanded again to the East. Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were added. NATO and the US assured Russia once again: no nuclear weapons and no foreign NATO troops will be stationed on the soil of former Warsaw Pact states.

Were promises broken? With the signing of the agreement on the missile shield, the US now makes clear it no longer feels bound to its past promises.

Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German minister of the interior: One cannot be surprised when discussions about stationing missile defense systems provoke reactions in Moscow. For successful policy, one must put oneself in the shoes of the other and then seek solutions together.

Frank Elbe, former director of planning of German foreign affairs: The Americans must understand Europeans also deal with a turn of the times and that Europe is not their backyard where they can freely operate and rule.
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