US and NATO should give Russia guarantees on missile defense – researcher

Tom Collina, a research director at the Arms Control Association, says the US has to find ways to reassure Moscow that the projected US anti-missile shield in Europe is no danger to Russia.

­The US and Russia will find a way to build a system that will suit the security concerns of both countries, promised US President Barack Obama at the G8 summit, which finished on Friday in France.

His words did not seem to satisfy Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, who, while talking at a press conference after the summit, expressed his disquiet at the anti-missile defense shield the US is planning to build in Europe. Medvedev said he had received no guarantees the shield would not be used against Russia and warned of the potential for a new arms race.

Washington and NATO have to find ways to reassure Russia that the anti-missile system is not aimed at them, continued Collina. Russia is very clear in its desire to see written guarantees to that effect, and Collina believes the US and NATO should provide these guarantees.

This anti-missile system could be joined, but, Collina, asked, “What does joint mean?” At this point the US and Russia are talking about sharing early warning information, which would be a step forward.

An arms race is possible if no consensus is reached on the anti-missile defense shield, but the more likely scenario is that Russia will not agree to further reductions of nuclear forces or even withdraw from the new START treaty, Collina suggested.

The Obama administration very much wants a cooperative relationship on the anti-missile defense with Russia, and very much wants another arms control reduction agreement with Russia,” said Collina. “I think there is enough common interest to move that forward.