Romania. In an stone through from crisis
BSSB.BE jamestown.org/ 13.05.2016
The United States missile defense (MD) base near the Romanian town of Deveselu, west of Bucharest, became operational this week, armed with 24 SM-3 Block IB interceptors, guided by a land-based version of the naval Aegis integrated combat system, using the SPY-1 radar. The US spent some $800 million to build and equip the base. Washington insists the MD base in Romania was built to counter a threat from Iran or other possible Middle Eastern rogue states and is not aimed at Russia.
According to officials from the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Romanian-based SM-3 missiles cannot intercept Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Moreover, assurances have been made that nuclear-armed attack missiles will not be deployed in Romania. The SM-3 do not carry any explosives; they are designed to destroy high-velocity targets by hitting them directly. These assurances apparently failed to assuage Moscow, which declared the Romanian MD base a threat and promised retaliation .
The fact that the MD base in Romania does not directly threaten the Russian strategic nuclear deterrent seems obvious. The commander of the Strategic Missile Force (RVSN), Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev, told journalists this week:
“The European segment of the US MD may threaten the RVSN in a limited way but cannot critically affect its battle capabilities.” Karakayev boasted: “We are developing new ICBMs and new reentry vehicles able to negate existing or future global US MD capabilities. New warheads will be able to fly along unpredictable trajectories and attack targets from all directions” (Interfax, May 10). If so, why is Moscow seemingly obsessing about the Romanian base?
- The director of the Russian foreign ministry’s arms control and nonproliferation department, Mikhail Ulyanov, accused the US of inventing a nonexistent Iranian missile threat as a pretext to deploy MD capabilities that are, in fact, aimed at Russia.
- The Iranian nuclear problem was eliminated last year by an agreement signed in Vienna, but “the US did not follow up its promises to abandon MD plans in Europe,” according to Ulyanov. “This is a major mistake that can undermine strategic stability.” Ulyanov continued: “The MD base may be used to launch cruise and ballistic missiles, and this is a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [INF]”.
Russian officials accuse Washington of essentially building a double-use missile base in Romania—one that can be employed for both MD and for destroying vital strategic targets. In particular, Moscow worries the base will purportedly allow the US to eliminate President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian military/political leaders in a surprise first nuclear strike. Such a decapitating first strike would throw Russian defenses into disarray, allowing massed US and NATO forces to move in for the kill and lay waste to the Russian Federation.
This nightmare scenario, apparently invented in the General Staff, has been dominating Russian strategic planning for more than a decade—since US plans to deploy MD interceptors in Europe were proposed. The chair of the Duma defense committee, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, and his counterpart in the Federation Council, Victor Ozerov, both insist the MD base in Romania and a similar base that will be constructed in Poland are aimed at Russia and have nothing to do with Iran.
Ozerov quotes unnamed “specialists,” apparently from Russian military intelligence: “The US MD installations in Romania and Poland may be quickly rearmed to deliver nuclear weapons” (Interfax, May 12). If the MD base in Romania could target Putin’s Sochi residence, the one in Poland would presumably be able to hit Moscow—thus, the US would have a cocked gun pressed to Putin’s head at nearly all times.
According to Alexander Grushko, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, “the activation of the Romanian MD base must be taken in context of NATO deploying additional forces close to Russian borders: the deployment of SM-3 interceptors on Aegis ships in European waters and the development of the US Prompt Global Strike system [PGS], all of which threaten Russia.” Evidently, Moscow considers the PGS to be also targeting Putin directly. Grushko insists that MD deployments openly threaten the INF treaty (TASS, May 12).
The defense ministry recently published footage of the launch of long-range land-based cruise missiles using the Iskander-M missile launcher (Tvzvezda.ru, April 23). To establish a credible capability to target Romania with nuclear warheads using the Iskander, and perhaps to force Bucharest to rescind the US MD deployment in Deveselu, Moscow will have to entirely back out of the INF treaty to be able to officially test the Iskander at longer ranges, possibly using both ballistic and cruise missiles.
The INF, signed by Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, has been under a growing threat for some time, with both Washington and Moscow accusing each other of violations. In 2007, as Putin was dramatically turning Russia on a path of acute confrontation with the West, he repeatedly openly threatened to scrap the treaty, in direct connection with the presumed threat of US MD bases in Poland and Romania (see EDM, February 21, 2007).
If the INF is scrapped, with it go the last vestiges of arms control, thus opening the door to a renewed arms race.
Euroscepticism Geopolitics Nations Video Conflicts
*Video – Lewis Black, the comedian, playwright, and satirist who is perhaps best known for his frequent “Back in Black” appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, addressed the National Press Club at a luncheon on April 14, 2014. Black, a native of Silver Spring, Md., talked about politics and social issues – as well as upcoming NPC speaker Donald Trump – in his inimitable style
* VIDEO – Why Journalism Is Important: Christopher Hitchens on Media- Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky proposed a concrete model for the filtering processes (biases) of mainstream media, especially in the United States, called the propaganda model. They tested this empirically and presented extensive quantified evidence supporting the model. Communication scholar Robert W. McChesney, inspired in part by the work of Chomsky and Herman, has linked the failures of the mainstream press primarily to corporate ownership, pro-corporate public policy, and the myth of “professional journalism.”