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Under Secretary Tauscher on U.S. Missile Defense Plans
March 22, 2011


Ellen Tauscher speaking at the 9th annual U.S. Missile Defense Agency conference

U.S. Department of State

Remarks by Ellen Tauscher

Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

Ninth Annual U.S. Missile Defense Agency Conference

Ronald Reagan Building,


DC March 21, 2011

As Prepared for Delivery

Ninth Annual U.S. Missile Defense Agency Conference

General O’Reilly, thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. I have been working with Pat for several years now. He’s a great patriot and his work has made a real difference for our country and for the Missile Defense Agency. Speaking for all of my colleagues in government, we appreciate his advice. I also want to thank all of you for your hard work, your patriotism, and for making our country safer and more secure.

I have spoken at this conference for several years now, first as the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and now in my current job at the Department of State. I guess it goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. But this conference is important because it gives all of us who are involved in developing and implementing our missile defense plans a chance to reflect on what we have accomplished and to take a fresh look at the challenges we face going forward.

Nearly two years ago, the Obama Administration undertook a series of reviews to update and upgrade our defense plans. We conducted an alphabet soup of reviews: The Nuclear Posture Review, the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, the Space Policy Review, and the Quadrennial Defense Review. The State Department, for the first time, embarked on its own strategic review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, otherwise known as the QDDR.

One of the reasons I accepted this job is that I wanted to support the Obama Administration’s efforts to get our defense policies right. In the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, we set forth a new approach to missile defense that I had been working on to authorize as a Member of Congress.

Then, as now, I want our missile defenses to be both operationally effective and cost-effective. President Obama added a third component that I also agree with: The systems must be able to adapt to new threats.

I know there has been a lot of partisan debate over our approach. But as a former politician, I know as well as anyone that policy details often get lost in the media coverage of political debates. It is much easier for the media to write about the politics of an issue rather than the details of a policy. That’s what happened at the end of last year during the debate over the New START Treaty. Missile defense became a political football. Opponents of the Treaty raised all kinds of red herrings. They created all sorts of missile defense-limiting scenarios. And those scenarios were as imaginative as they were false.

As Secretary Clinton said in Munich last month, “We have made it absolutely clear / we will not accept any constraints on our missile defenses. The United States Government will do what is necessary to protect America, our forces, our allies and friends from attacks from countries outside of Europe.” Not only has Secretary Clinton made that point, so has Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General O’Reilly, General Cartwright, Vice President Biden and President Obama.

And I have said it before and I am going to say it again. We will continue to develop and deploy effective missile defenses and to develop a budget – even in these difficult times – to implement our missile defense strategy.

Now let me turn to Europe and Russia since our plans for a European missile defense architecture have gotten so much attention.

The United States has no more important security relationship than we do with our NATO allies in Europe. That relationship continues to grow.

When I first started working on missile defense issues around 1997, our NATO and European allies were very skeptical, to say the least. But there has been a huge change in Europe’s attitude, and particularly NATO’s attitude, toward missile defense. I have been impressed in my discussions with my European and NATO counterparts by how much and how quickly they have embraced territorial missile defense as a mission.

There are a few more key components to our approach that we are applying to our missile defense architecture in Europe. We want to protect all of Europe, not just some of Europe. We want our European allies and friends to buy into the European Phased Adaptive Approach; it is not something that we want to impose on them – that’s not what friends do. Finally, we have started discussing potential missile defense cooperation between the United States and Russia and NATO and Russia; we want Russia in the missile defense tent rather than outside that tent.

Last year in Lisbon, Allied leaders endorsed President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach. The defining feature of this plan is that it makes our NATO allies true partners. The plan gives our NATO allies a stake in our collective security. Europe is no longer just a place for us to stage a defense system. I know that Ivo Daalder, who is speaking after me, will go into much more detail. (He’ll also tell you that as our ambassador to NATO that you can find him on Twitter; I can assure you that you will not find me!)

This year, we will be taking missile defense off the drawing board and putting it into action starting with the deployment of radar systems on land and Aegis ships in the Mediterranean. As you know, one of our Aegis-BMD ships, the USS Monterrey, arrived in the Mediterranean earlier this month to begin the first sustained deployment of a ballistic missile defense capable ship to support the EPAA.

By the end of this fiscal year, our regional missile defense capabilities will consist of 26 THAAD interceptors and 107 SM-3 interceptors. And Romania and Poland have agreed to host land-based SM-3 interceptor sites. Their support allows the United States to base our systems closer to the Iranian threat and provides a permanent missile defense capability in Europe. These plans create a synergy and reduce the costs and burdens of a European missile defense architecture.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, I want to talk about missile defense cooperation with Russia since some think we are holding “secret talks” and “cutting secret deals.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Secretary Gates is there as we speak. Resetting our relationship with Russia has provided momentum on numerous fronts, including getting a New START Treaty ratified, increasing cooperation on Afghanistan, and putting into place stiff sanctions against Iran to curb and hopefully thwart its nuclear ambitions.

The reset also provides a path to seek an agreement on missile defense cooperation, which would enhance our national security. Missile defense cooperation with Russia has the potential for enhancing the capability of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, which is why Allied leaders reaffirmed this idea in Lisbon. And President Medvedev, for his own reasons, has embraced the idea of missile defense cooperation as well.

If we can work this out, there is an opportunity for a missile defense partnership that continues to move our relationship to one based on Mutually Assured Stability and that enhances our collective security.

Russia has assets it can bring to the table, like their early warning radars. There are assets that we can bring to the table as well. We are eager to begin a joint analysis, joint exercises, and sharing of early warning data that could form the basis for a cooperative missile defense system. We will work together to ensure that our missile defense systems are mutually reinforcing. But, in the end, NATO will defend NATO and Russia will defend Russia.

Moving missile defense from a negative to a positive factor in our relationship could facilitate cooperation in other areas as well, including talks on further reductions in strategic, non-strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons. // But reaching any agreement will not be easy and it will take time.

Beyond Europe and Russia, there are challenges and tough questions ahead of us. There still is much more work to be done to implement new regional approaches outside of Europe. We need to think through what a phased adaptive approach would look like in the Middle East and Asia.

When the various political and military dynamics are factored in, they might look different than our approach in Europe. Our Allies in the Middle East and Asia have their own missile defense assets and each brings different advantages to the missile defense table. We need to figure out how we can leverage those advantages to provide the best protection for the United States, our deployed forces, and our Allies and partners.

We also have the chance to forge closer partnerships to develop more capable systems with countries like Japan, France, Israel, South Korea and Australia. We can work with our allies and partners to upgrade their warships to enable them to conduct missile defense operations. And we can work with them to deploy sensors around the world to provide the data necessary for our interceptors to take out ballistic missiles.

I want to conclude with a note of reassurance. I know the debate at home over missile defense can be contentious. My former colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, feel very passionately about this issue. And I do, too. But the lesson that you can take away is one that should reassure our allies and send a message of resolve to those who threaten us:

Missile defense is a national and bipartisan priority and nothing is going to change that. Our country and our Allies and partners depend on the Missile Defense Agency and that’s why we’re so appreciate of your hard work.

Thank you very much and I’ll be glad to take a few questions.