Romanian Missile Shield Activated By The US
A missile shield that is seen to be vital for the defense of Romania and Europe against rogue states was activated by the United States recently. However, Russia claims the $800 million system is designed to stop its nuclear arsenal.
Senior officials of NATO and the US declared the ballistic missile defense site operational at the Deveselu air base. The system has the capability of shooting down rockets that may come from other countries. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work of the US said the United States will continue working on defending NATO as long as Iran will continue its development and deployment of ballistic missiles.
Even as plans are being made to continue the development of the system, Work said it will not be used in reducing the Russian missile threat in the future.
Prior to the ceremony in front of the gray concrete housing of the missile shield system, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control of the US, Frank Rose, said the ballistic missiles of Iran has the capability of reaching Romania and some parts of Europe.
The defense umbrella is expected to stretch from the Azores up to Greenland. The US is set to break ground for its final site in Poland, which is expected to be completed by 2018. The final site will complete the defense system that was initially proposed nearly ten years ago.
In addition to the ground-based missile system, the shield will also include radars and ships across Europe. It will be turned over to NATO by July and the command and control system will be based in a US airbase in Germany.
The show of force of the US and NATO through the missile shield system infuriated Russia. Moscow said the alliance is attempting to encircle it close to the Black Sea, which is home to one of its naval fleets. NATO intends to increase patrols in the strategically important body of water.
A senior Foreign Ministry official of Russia, Andrey Kelin, said the missile shield is part of the political and military containment of Russia. He said the decisions of NATO can aggravate an already tense situation, adding that the move may slow down efforts in mending relations between the two sides.
The office of President Vladimir Putin of Russia doubted the aim of providing protection to the alliance against the rockets of Iran by NATO. A nuclear agreement was negotiated last year between Iran and world power with the help of Russia. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman of Putin, said there was a dramatic change in the situation with Iran.
The president of Ploughshares Fund, Joe Cirincione, said the missile shield should be scrapped. He said the main objective of the missile shield is to provide protection against a nuclear missile attack from Iran. Since Iran will not be developing a nuclear missile in the next two decades, there will be no reason to carry on with the program.
The development of the missile shield comes as preparations for a deterrent in the Baltics and Poland were made by NATO after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. It resulted to the addition of three new divisions by Russia in its southern and western flanks.
Concerns were raised in Poland following the announcement of Russia to deploy nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, which is locate close to Lithuania and Poland. Anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles were deployed by Russia in its enclave covering a large area and causing problems on the ability to move of NATO.
Moscow says the missile shield is designed to neutralize its nuclear arsenal to allow the United States to hit Russia in case a war breaks out. However, the US and NATO deny the accusation. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO said the missile shield system does not weaken the strategic nuclear deterrent of Russia.
However, the envoy of the United States to NATO Douglas Lute said the alliance will continue its biggest modernization since the Cold War. They are deploying ground, sea and air assets across its eastern flanks to defend against any aggressor.
The missile defense system is dependent on radars to detect ballistic missiles launched into space. The trajectory of the rocket is measure and attempts to destroy it before it reenters the atmosphere. Ships or ground-based systems can fire the interceptors.
The missile shield established in Romania is based on the Aegis ships of the US. It was assembled in New Jersey before being shipped to the Deveselu air base. Even as NATO and US officials insist that the shield is aimed at defending against threats coming from the Middle East, it was not clear if the system can be reconfigured to defend against an attack from Russia.
The United States contended in July 2014 that Russia breach a treaty they signed against the development and deployment of missiles with a range of at least 500 kilometers. The issue remains contentious as the US does not want to give any indications that the missile shield is capable of shooting down Russian ballistic missiles.