The once in a lifetime look behind the curtains of international diplomacy provided by Wikileaks and their inside source is proving to be highly volatile for international relations. Even though to date only a few of the uncovered cables come from and went to the US embassy in Moscow they have provided a deeper understanding of the new ‘Phased – Adaptive Approach’ to missile defense.
The Bush plan called for 10 or so interceptors along with a hi-tech radar facility in Eastern Europe. The secret cables clearly show that Russian resistance to this plan was almost entirely with the new radar facility. To understand why such resistance you need to know that the odds of shooting down an ICBM are significantly better if you know exactly where it was launched. You can shoot it down on the way up when it hasn’t reached full speed, still has limited defensive capabilities and hasn’t split off into multiple warheads raining down over a wide area. Further if you can pinpoint launch locations you can direct your retaliation efforts much more accurately. A radar facility in the Czech Republic would cover the entire western and more importantly north-west portion of Russia where it is believed at least hundreds of missiles are stationed. That is a serious concern for Russia of course.
Obama’s change to the ‘Phased, Adaptive Approach’ to missile defense has met with little resistance from Moscow to date. The radar facility will be moved farther south to possibly Turkey or Bulgaria but that is yet to be decided. Interceptors will be located in Romania as well as on war ships apparently. Given the range and sophistication of the X band radar system that can track a baseball from 4,700 km away it’s unclear if moving the radar station as mentioned would hide Russian missile activities anyway.
However Wikileaks has just released the fact that the Phased, Adaptive Approach will target 'hundreds of missiles' Iran is scheduled to deploy in the coming years, not the few ICBM’s that was initially targeted under the Bush plan. The September 17, 2009 cable to the US embassy in Moscow clearly states,
“We believe that Iran plans to deploy hundreds of these short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles. Our old plan was designed to intercept only small numbers of ICBMs.”