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Countering Russian Strategic Missile Threat Too Hard, Costly for US

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Countering the threat of Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles is too hard and too costly for the United States, Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld stated on Tuesday.

The top of the list of threats to the survival of the United States itself is “a massive nuclear attack from Russia, or some other high-end adversary or potential adversary like China,” Winnefeld noted.

“We have stated that missile defense against these high end threats is too hard, and too expensive, and too strategically destabilizing to even try,” Winnefeld said of the threat of a Russian or Chinese nuclear attack in a speech at the Center for Strategic International Studies.

US missile defense is intended for situations where “it has the highest probability of being most effective,” Winnefeld explained.

Military and top civilian leadership have alleged that US homeland and regional European missile defense systems are intended to counter long-range missile threats from North Korea and Iran.

The primary US deterrent against Russia, Winnefeld added, is the nuclear triad.

“We will use the cost imposition piece to deter Russia by keeping all three legs of our nuclear deterrent strong and our nuclear command and control system robust.”

By the end of 2015, the United States will install the Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in Romania, completing Phase 2 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, Winnefeld said.

Moscow has repeatedly raised opposition to US proliferation of missile defense systems near its border, claiming it represents a threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

The BMD systems were previously limited under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty between the US and Russia to avoid a strategic imbalance. The United States backed out of that treaty in 2001.


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