Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Congresswoman Tauscher on Missile Defence

Speaking Tuesday at the German Marshall Fund's Bucharest Conference, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (Chair, House Subcommittee Strategic Resources) laid out the House Democrats vision for missile defence policy in Europe. She made clear that, as the person mainly responsible for controlling the purse strings, she and the Democrats had forced policy change on the administration. She spoke in support of missile defences covering NATO, but insisted that even US strategic defences in Europe would have to be under the command of NATO and the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) - something the Bush administration has consistently refused to countenance. She also talked of the need for comprehensive testing of missile defences. Her answer to a question was:

TAUSCHER: Well, that's a long series of questions. Let me just state where the Congress is. I cannot speak for a future administration, although I'm looking forward to hopefully having a
Democratic president in 2009.

But for the last year and this year, as the Democrats have been in the majority in the House and the Senate, we have changed missile defense policy. We've demanded more accountability from the Missile Defense Agency, more testing.

And the relationship and the negotiations between the United States, bilateral negotiations between Poland the Czech Republic were of concern to the Congress. And what we want is an indivisible, comprehensive missile defense system that meets our Article V considerations against current threats.

And current threats are short- and medium-range missiles coming out of the Middle East, and Iran, specifically. And the southern tier of our NATO allies right now are unprotected against a current threat.

The long-range system that the Bush administration proposed, the 10 interceptors in Poland and the radar in the Czech Republic, are against an emerging Iranian threat against the United States. That is a long-range system.

What we have, what I have proposed -- and I've worked with Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Secretary Gates and Secretary Rice -- is to have a NATO-ized system, to have a comprehensive, layered system with command and control in SHAPE under the SACEUR that would be a comprehensive system, one that would have a short- and medium-range component developed by NATO that the United States would include our long-range system, and so you would have a completely tiered, layered defense against all emerging and current threats, indivisibly for all of NATO countries.

And that is what I hope will come out partly of the NATO summit. My concern is that -- is this intelligence gap that I alluded to in my remarks, that there doesn't seem to be the kind of sense of urgency that I think that our European allies, NATO allies need to have about the
current threat and what we need to do to have a procurement decision to move forward on this short- and medium-range system that would be -- it's called the ALTBMD system.

It's already on the drawing board in NATO. But I think we need to move it past the conceptual and into a design and procurement phase. Then we could, as I said, bolt together the long-range American system and then we would have this comprehensive, layered system.

The full text of Mrs Tauscher's interventions at the meeting can be found at the Bucharest Conference website.

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