The change Barack Obama proposed for the ABM systems in Europe is much more tailored for the Middle Eastern missile threat, says policy analyst Ivan Oelrich, the president of the American Federation of Scientists.
“The system that the US wants to place in Europe would have very little capability against Russian missiles, but still the missile defence in Alaska and California are still there and at least the Missile Defence Office in the US claims that they would have some capability against a few Russian missiles,” Ivan Oelrich said, and added that “Russians are concerned about what the system in Europe might grow into in the future, I don’t think that they are concerned about what today’s plans are and what tomorrow’s plans might be.”
Oelrich said the missile defence would cost the US more politically and financially than it is worth because any country that has the necessary technological sophistication, like Russia or China, can quickly introduce measures to outplay the system.
The whole ballistic missile defence system project is a legacy of the Reagan era, said Oelrich, and it is nearly impossible to scrap it for political reasons because it is very dear to conservatives in the Senate. It would be impossible to ratify a new START treaty and forget about the missile defence at the same time, Oelrich predicted.
“Russians are making a tactical mistake because they are making a big deal out of something that simply won’t work… Bush spent billions on that [missile defence] project, they officially thought it would work while scientists outside government are quite skeptical about whether it will work.”
“In the end, Russians are going to get a deal giving up something valuable in exchange for something that is not very valuable [for the US] – the missile defence system.”
Ivan Oelrich came to the conclusion that “the real and only danger here is that the [US missile defence] system would only work against the Russian attack if it were done with the remnants of the Russian nuclear attack after a first strike by the United States. What the United States and Russia have to do is to make such attacks impossible by taking the weapons off their alert – that would solve the problem.”