Missile defense concession
The Obama administration is about to make another concession to Russia on missile defense by concluding an agreement with Turkey to base a radar there that would monitor Iranian missile launches.
The deal is raising questions about whether the administration gave in to a Turkish demand that no missile-tracking data from the radar be shared with Israel or other non-NATO members. The demand was based on the Turkish government’s increasing Islamist and pro-Iranian policies.
The TPY-2 radar deal has been under discussion for the past year and goes against a plan by the George W. Bush administration to place a radar in one of two former Soviet republics, Georgia or Azerbaijan.
Moscow opposed putting the radar in those states, claiming it would threaten Russia’s nuclear missile forces.
Earlier concessions by the Obama administration included canceling plans to deploy 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland in favor of its less-capable “phased adaptive approach” that relies on untested missile defense systems, specifically a future long-range version of the Navy’s SM-3 interceptor.
A senior U.S. national security official said the Turkish agreement for the radar is expected to be completed in the next week.
“It’s yet another concession to the Russians,” the official said. A second official said conclusion of deal was imminent.
Also, placing the radar in Turkey will provide less capability against a future Iranian longrange missile targeted against the United States, the first official said.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said discussions on a forward-based radar have been under way for sometime.
Mr. Toner said the phased adaptive approach missile defense is “not about Russia.”
The missile defense program “is a better system that will provide fuller protection to our NATO allies and the United States and it will do sooner than the previous system.”
William Burns, nominee to be deputy secretary of state, was asked last week if he thought Israel should be blocked from using the TPY-2 radar data, as Turkey suggested in conditioning its role in NATO missile defenses.
Mr. Burns did not answer directly. He replied that the phased adaptive approach and NATO missile defenses “are for the defense of NATO and Europe.” He said the Pentagon has “separate and robust missile defense cooperative efforts with Israel.”
“The United States has stated consistently that it reserves the right to use information from U.S. sensors in whatever ways it deems necessary,” Mr. Burns said in response to written questions posed by Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, as part of the nomination process.
A Turkish Embassy spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
A classified Jan. 26, 2010, State Department cable said the Turkish government was still debating how to respond to U.S. requests to put the radar and possibly other missile defenses in Turkey.
The cable, made public by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told President Obama that “such a system must be implemented in a NATO context to diminish the political cost that his government will likely bear, both in terms of domestic politics and in Turkey’s relations with Iran.”
“Erdogan is concerned that Turkey’s participation might later give Israel protection from an Iranian counterstrike,” said the cable, labeled “secret.”
The Czech Republic recently pulled out of plans to host a missile early-warning radar as part of the administration’s program. Prague officials claimed their participation was rejected because the system would have provided data on missile attacks but was not connected to interceptors that could shoot them down.
In February, four Republican senators wrote to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging him to put the radar in Georgia instead of Turkey.
“We believe the U.S. should deploy the most effective missile defenses possible — in partnership with our allies — that provide for protection for the U.S. homeland, our deployed forces and our allies,” said the letter by Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, James E. Risch of Idaho, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mr. Kirk.
Zelzal missiles are launched as part of maneuvers two weeks ago by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. According to a WikiLeaks cable, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “is concerned that Turkey’s par ticipation [in U.S. missile defenses] might later give Israel protection from an Iranian counterstrike.”