Obama re­jects mis­sile deal

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Pres­i­dent Obama re­cently re­jected a pro­posed mis­sile-de­fense agree­ment with Rus­sia that was de­vel­oped by the State Depart­ment with the hope of coax­ing Moscow into co­op­er­a­tion on coun­ter­ing Ira­nian mis­sile threats.

The draft deal had been de­vel­oped by Ellen Tauscher, un­der­sec­re­tary of state for arms con­trol and in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity, prior to the Group of Eight sum­mit last month, where it was hoped the agree­ment would be signed by Mr. Obama and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitri Medvedev.

The White House, how­ever, de­cided against sign­ing the pact amid con­cerns that the agree­ment would limit U.S. mis­sile de­fenses, some­thing the ad­min­is­tra­tion has promised it would not do. Rus­sia, how­ever, has sought such lim­its as part of its strat­egy for the on­go­ing talks with the United States on the sub­ject.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial close to the is­sue, the Rus­sians were told in ad­vance of the sum­mit that the deal would be signed dur­ing the meet­ing of world lead­ers in Deauville, France, in late May.

“The pres­i­dent couldn’t sign it,” said the of­fi­cial, who noted that the Rus­sians “felt they had been lied to.” The of­fi­cial added that what was sig­nif­i­cant was that Mr. Obama turned down an arms agree­ment that was drafted by his own State Depart­ment.

The pro­posed deal in­cluded four parts that were worked out by Mrs. Tauscher and of­fi­cials in her shop. They in­cluded un­ob­jec­tion­able sec­tions on con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures and trans­parency.

The White House balked on the agree­ment be­cause of two other parts. One in­volved a writ­ten as­sur­ance that treaty at­tor­neys re­jected as some­thing Moscow could con­sider legally bind­ing: a state­ment say­ing the Pen­tagon would not point mis­sile-de­fense in­ter­cep­tors de­ployed in Europe at Rus­sia.

A sec­ond pro­vi­sion that scut­tled the deal in­volved lan­guage in the draft agree­ment that could be con­sid­ered as lim­its on the num­bers and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of U.S. mis­sile de­fenses.

As in the past, Congress has been left in the dark on the agree­ment, de­spite claims by Mrs. Tauscher and oth­ers that her deal­ings with Moscow on mis­sile de­fenses are not se­cret.

State Depart­ment spokesman Mark Toner de­clined to com­ment on the break­down of the pro­posed agree­ment.

“I would sim­ply say that we con­tinue to seek, per the pres­i­dent’s in­struc­tions, mis­sile-de­fense co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia, but we will not agree to any con­straints or lim­its on our mis­sile-de­fense sys­tems,” Mr. Toner said in an email to In­side the Ring.

Mrs. Tauscher, who aides say of­ten refers to her­self in meet­ings as “the Tausch,” could not be reached for com­ment.

Fol­low­ing the sum­mit, NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­ders Ras­mussen said June 7 that NATO and Rus­sia could not de­velop joint mis­sile de­fense be­cause the al­liance would not “out­source” de­fense obli­ga­tions to non­mem­bers.

Dis­clo­sure of the failed mis­sile agree­ment comes as the Czech Repub­lic gov­ern­ment an­nounced on June 15 that it is can­cel­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­gional mis­sile de­fense, based on a fail­ure to prop­erly in­clude the Czechs in the sys­tem.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to limit mis­sile de­fenses in Europe be­cause of ob­jec­tions from Rus­sia. The Czech with­drawal rep­re­sents a fail­ure of the ad­min­is­tra­tion to back U.S. al­lies in East­ern Europe, said one U.S. of­fi­cial.


De­fense Sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate Leon E. Panetta said that if con­firmed, he would re­view the Pen­tagon’s “pos­ture in Asia and make ap­pro­pri­ate rec­om­men­da­tions on any en­hance­ments.”

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