The recent days saw some smaller issues in the field of missile defense. Here a brief overview:
Japan's Masahiko Komura foreign minister reassured his Russian counterpart on Monday that Tokyo's missile defense cooperation with the United States is not targeted against Russia. Komura said that the cooperation "has been forced by Japan's close location to North Korea, which has conducted a nuclear weapon test." – U.S. missile defense cooperation not targeted against Russia… somehow I have a déjà vu.
Speaking of the Czech Republic: The U.S. Defense Department announced on Tuesday it would pay $400 million to defense contractor Raytheon for the design and development of a radar for the planned European missile shield. This decision was made quickly after the NATO summit in Bucharest, where the U.S.-Czech deal was announced. It seems that Prague considers whether to seize the opportunity and deviate from its earlier position to look only for nonmilitary cooperation in the research and technical sectors as part of the radar agreement. This week mixed messages came up: Deputy Defense Minister Martin Bartak told Czech public television that “We have asked the U.S. for cooperation in the acquisition of two midrange tactical transport planes and that should be raised in the framework of antimissile defense negotiations.” Another official from the Ministry of Defense explained that such a cooperation would occur outside the radar agreement. Some media reports stating that Czech was looking for Patriot missiles were promptly denied by a spokesperson from the Ministry of Defense. This is not the only problem connected with the base on Czech territory. Jeremy Druker analyzes the “The Prague-Washington swindle”. The agreement still needs to be ratified by both houses of Parliament and the president must approve any deployment of foreign troops on Czech territory. Considering the likeliness that this will happen, Druker recommends both Prague and Washington to better come up with a back-up plan. Cautious voices could also be heard among U.S. politicians. House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) said she does not want to commit the next administration to fielding missile defenses in Europe unless both countries central to the plans formally agree to host them.
Regarding the European bases of the U.S. missile shield the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a proposal on how to ease the tensions and remove the concerns that Russia has: "We believe it would be easy to relieve these concerns by not deploying missile defenses in Europe.” One cannot deny that the charm of this proposal is it its simplicity. However, Lavrov recognized that it is not very likely that Washington will accept his proposal: “But as long as our partners refuse to do so, Russia wants to be assured that their deployment will not be targeted against it." Lavrov did not elaborate on how this could be achieved. He simply stated that Moscow has proposals reciprocal to the U.S. ideas, as well as a number of questions.
NTI reports that the new Russian S-400 Triumph air-defense system is expected to undergo testing in August before its planned deployment:
The system is intended to defend against short-range and cruise missiles as well as stealth aircraft and warheads carried by high-speed delivery vehicles.
“We hope to receive this system in July-August 2008, test it and then put it on combat duty. Permanent combat readiness regiments will be the first to be re-equipped with new air defense missile systems,” ITAR-Tass quoted Col. Gen. Yuri Solovyov, head of the Russian air force’s Special Purpose Command, as saying.
Solovyov added that the new system’s “jamming vulnerability, handling channels and the firing at high-speed targets” are superior to the capabilities of its predecessor, the S-300 Triumph (United Press International, April 13).