Interview with Theodore Postol

Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology, and Int. Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared with Russia Today his view on the Russia-U.S. divergence of opinion on the missile defence issue.

As tension continues to mount between Russia and the United States over its plans for a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, experts continue to debate the issue.

Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recently published an editorial piece in the New York Times about the controversial programme.

The American professor spoke with Russia Today's Marina Portnaya about his view on the Russia-U.S. divergence of opinion on the issue.

Theodore Postol: This is perhaps the most inviting possibility that has yet occurred and the reason is that we will be exploding a Russian capability, and potentially a complementary U.S. capability, that would together give us a potentially much more capable missile defence than we can otherwise have using either of the capabilities by themselves.

Russia Today: Can Russia's Azerbaijan proposal be a better way for U.S. and Russia to keep an effective check on Iran – one of the so-called rogue states – that Bush says his missile defence plan would be protecting Europe and America from?

T.P.: The Russian radar in Azerbaijan can probably provide some useful intelligence on missile development activities in Iran, but it is really not perfectly well suited for that mission. However it is very well suited if it is employed as a piece of the missile defence that the U.S. want to build to help defend Europe.

RT: If President Bush does reject President Putin's offer, could that illustrate that the U.S. isn't serious about facilitating international co-operation on missile defence?

T.P.: If Mr Bush is truly interested in co-operation on missile defence, it’s very hard to see why this thing would be rejected. It makes no technical sense and it also makes no political sense. I can understand why the Russians find it hard to accept statements that the Cold War is over – because Russia is not being treated like a friend and a potential ally.

RT: Russia has announced its plans to suspend its obligations under the Conventional Forces Treaty. The question is – will that move make matters worse between Russia and the U.S.?

T.P.: I am hopeful the Russians will re-consider, but at the same time I think that the Russians have made a decision and that the American political leadership has to realise that they have made a decision, and respond constructively. So Russians had to draw a bright line in the sand to stop this continual encroachment, that they perceive this happening, really being pushed by the U.S. So that was the straw that broke the camel’s back – this missile defence proposal of the U.S.