in: IMI/DFG-VK: Kein Frieden mit der NATO

NATO’s aggressive nuclear policy and missile defence

von: Arno Neuber | Veröffentlicht am: 5. Januar 2009


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The agenda for the NATO summit in April 2009 will include the establishment of a NATO missile defence system in Europe, just as it will include a debate on the strategy of the Alliance. In the realm of missile defence, NATO has already launched two programmes. One of these is the Method To Back Ur Ex Wife Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System (ALTBMD), a weapons system designed to protect intervention forces on missions outside NATO territory, the first development stage of which is to be combat-ready by 2010. To that end, individual NATO Allies will provide the sensors and weapon components, while NATO as a whole will provide the command structures (BMC3I – battle management, command, control, communications and intelligence). The implementation of this project will reputedly cost some €800 million, with Germany paying an 18% share of the bill.[1] The controversial US-German-Italian MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defence System) is also to be integrated into the ALTBMD system.[2]

At their Istanbul summit in 2004, the Heads of State or Government of the NATO countries agreed to press ahead quickly with their missile-defence plans. They approved the establishment of a Programme Management Organization, reporting to the Conference of National Armaments Directors, and the new body took up its duties in March 2005. In September 2006, at the Riga summit, an initial development contract, worth about €75 million, for the ALTBMD system was signed by NATO and a consortium of companies from the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

At the Prague summit in 2002, a mandate was issued for a feasibility study for a second and far more extensive missile-defence programme, designed to protect NATO territory and its major population centres. Since the study was commissioned from none other than a consortium of armaments companies,[3] which would naturally have a great interest in the creation of such a shield, it is hardly surprising that the 10,000-page study, which has been kept secret until now, concluded that a NATO missile shield covering the entire territory of the Allied countries was, in principle, technically feasible (See Appendix). Whether the political leaders of NATO’s member countries actually know what the study exactly says is open to question. Nevertheless, its findings were confirmed by the ‘defence’ ministers in April 2006. The cost of making the system fully operational is said to be between 27.5 and 30 billion euros, and the essential early-warning satellites will increase this amount to €40 billion or more.[4] At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, the North Atlantic Council was finally given the task “to develop options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all Allied territory and populations not otherwise covered by the United States system for review at our 2009 Summit, to inform any future political decision”.[5]

Contrary to all the glib assurances, these anti-missile plans are not about defence at all but about strike capability. Even the pro-Government Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – the German Research Institute for International Politics and Security – asserts that “the argument that there are currently no risks or threats to justify building the architecture of a missile-defence system is virtually irrefutable from the present perspective”. The author of that statement sees the significance of missile defence in the context of the intervention policies of NATO and the EU. “In both the NATO framework (NATO Response Force – NRF) and that of the European Union (EU Battle Groups), Germany provides considerable proportions of the rapid-deployment forces […]. If intervention by the international community were to become unavoidable against a country that could threaten the Federal Republic with the use of weapons of mass destruction, that would change the strategic situation drastically.”[6]

NATO and nuclear weapons

At its Washington summit in April 1999, NATO adopted a new statement of strategic objectives – the Strategic Concept – with which it transformed itself once and for all into a globally active intervention alliance. While an illegal war of aggression was being jointly waged in Yugoslavia, a decision was also taken to give no further consideration to the option of renouncing the first use of nuclear weapons, a proposal that had recently been introduced into the debate by the German Foreign Minister of that time, Joschka Fischer. Instead, nuclear weapons were to go on playing a key role for NATO, because they ensured “uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies‘ response to military aggression”.[7]

In January 2002, the secret report reviewing the US nuclear arsenal, the Nuclear Posture Review,[8] presented nuclear weapons as a more or less standard military option in the arsenal of the US armed forces. Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria were identified as ‘rogue states’ at which a US nuclear strike could potentially be targeted. The development of ‘bunker-busters’ and ‘mini-nukes’ was intended to make nuclear weapons a deployable tactical instrument too. Lastly, provision was also made for the use of nuclear weapons “in the event of surprising military developments”.

In the US National Security Strategy of September 2002, [9] safeguarding the dominance of the United States was proclaimed to be the supreme goal of US policy. The option of a war of aggression against any given country thus becomes an essential means of ensuring that the country in question cannot be a future source of threat to the United States and its interests. To this end, it is imperative that the US armed forces possess absolute military supremacy. “If the United States claims a global right of intervention, the strategic interests of others will necessarily be prejudiced. If these others are to remain quiescent and incapable of inflicting any damage, America must be commandingly superior.”[10] This is precisely the context in which a defensive shield acquires its importance. In the opinion of Robert Kagan and William Kristol, two leading neo-conservatives, a missile-defence system is ‘the sine qua non’ for a strategy of US dominance. Only a well-protected America, they assert, would be able ‘to deter rogue states’ and, if necessary, to take action against such states if they were endangering regional stability.[11]

This strategy is far from being a mere paper exercise, for its precepts “have already been incorporated into the concrete planning of objectives (of the nuclear forces, for example)”.[12] In January 2008, lastly, the British newspaper The Guardian reported on a strategy paper produced by five former NATO generals, in which the US nuclear-war strategy was spelled out for NATO. Under the heading Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World, John Shalikashvili, formerly NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Klaus Naumann, former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Henk van den Breemen, former Dutch Chief of Staff, Jacques Lanxade, former French Chief of Staff, and Lord Inge, former Chief of the Defence Staff in the UK, propagated the first use of nuclear weapons as a means of preventing countries like Iran from procuring nuclear weapons. “The first use of nuclear weapons”, they wrote, “must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction”.[13]

A feature in the magazine programme Fakt on ARD television on 21 April 2008 gave Klaus Naumann the opportunity to speak about the five generals’ paper. “We consciously stated that there was no weapon in our arsenal which we would discount from the outset,” he said, “for that is the only way to increase the uncertainty factor in an adversary’s calculations”.[14] The Fakt programme quoted from a passage in which the authors of the paper refer to the possibility of using nuclear weapons against terrorists or so-called ‘rogue states’, stating that “This ultima ratio of politics might very well be the first option to be used”.[15] This strategy is evidently favoured by senior officials too, such as Robert Cooper, chief aide to the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, who responded to the paper by saying, “Maybe we are going to use nuclear weapons before anyone else, but I’d be wary of saying it out loud”.[16]

It is hardly surprising, then, that serious discussions took place behind closed doors at the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008 on the first use of nuclear weapons. “In addition to the official agenda, the NATO summit in Bucharest, according to information obtained by the Parisian newspaper Le Canard enchaîné, will also hold a debate behind the scenes on the use of miniaturised nuclear bombs. (…) Preventive nuclear strikes would serve to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction at times of terrorist activity. The idea is reportedly backed by several of NATO’s military commanders. The use of nuclear weapons against a state classed as dangerous has not been ruled out. The United States has developed ‘mini-nukes’. France had previously decided against developing such weapons. In a speech on 21 March, President Nicolas Sarkozy said of his country’s nuclear doctrine that nuclear weapons allowed an aggressor to ‘send a warning’”.[17]

US missile defence and ‘new Europe’

In its negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic on the deployment of components of the US missile-defence system, the Bush Administration made it clear – and not for the first time – that it set little store by a lengthy coordination process with its NATO allies but preferred to assert its interests unilaterally. At the same time, however, backing from NATO is always gladly accepted. Accordingly, Washington never forgets to point out “that the Secretary-General of NATO, Jap de Hoop Scheffer, explicitly emphasised that the Allies were convinced that a defence system would have no impact on the strategic balance with Russia”.[18]

The United States has already deployed ten ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles from its Ground-based Midcourse Missile Defense System (GMDS) in Alaska and five in California. It plans to have a total of 44 GBIs in place by 2013. Although NATO assured Russia in 1997 that it would not deploy any strategic military capabilities in its new member countries, ten ground-based interceptor missiles are to be deployed in Poland along with a high-definition X-band radar installation in the Czech Republic as integral parts of the US defence shield. The official reason given by Washington for the US system of missile defence is an alleged threat to US territory from Iranian long-range missiles, an argument that is entirely bereft of plausibility. Even if Iran had such military intentions, it does not possess the necessary missile capability and is “still far from possessing the technological ability to miniaturise nuclear warheads (…) which it would need to transport those warheads over long distances on ballistic carriers”.[19]

Russia in the firing line

The real reasons for the United States’ hectic efforts to build up a missile-defence system lie elsewhere. “What the United States would like to achieve in general terms is to remain able to act as a global power by nuclear and conventional means, even in relation to countries that also possess, or are set to possess, nuclear weapons”, is the verdict of Frank Elbe, former head of the planning staff at the Federal Foreign Office, and Ulrich Weisser, former head of the planning staff at the Federal Ministry of Defence. This, they say, is why the Bush Administration, by withdrawing the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibited the construction of nationwide defensive shields, “allowed an important pillar of the international architecture of strategic arms control to collapse” and “abandoned the principle of a carefully distributed strategic balance between Russia and the United States”.[20]

The fact that missile defence is about attack rather than defence is also confirmed by commentators in the United States. In the leading US foreign-affairs journal, authors Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press describe the US missile-defence programme as the instrument of a new Cold War against Russia and China. “Is the United States intentionally pursuing nuclear primacy? (…) The current and future U.S. nuclear force (…) seems designed to carry out a preemptive disarming strike against Russia or China. (…) The sort of missile defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one – as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield.[21]

The radar station that the United States intends to install in the Czech Republic would have a high-performance X-band radar system which could “observe Russian flight tests and the release of the multiple warheads of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)”.[22] The radar can “accurately identify intercontinental missiles, follow their trajectory and distinguish nuclear warheads from dummies and therefore deliver reliable firing data”.[23] Since 1998, the United States has been operating such an installation in Vardø, Norway, the purpose of which, experts believe, is to monitor Russian missile tests. “Together with a second X-band radar station, to be based near the Aleutian island of Shemya, it would enable the United States to observe all the trajectories of Russian long-range missiles fired from the Plesetsk test site near Archangel in north-western Russia to Kura on the Kamchatka peninsula. What is more, should the Cobra Dane sea-based radar station on Shemya Island be linked with the system envisaged for the Czech Republic, this would make it possible to monitor all the ICBMs deployed on the Russian mainland that could target the east and west coasts of the United States. The US would know all about carrier systems and about the properties of Russian warheads and decoys. The data could be logged in the central National Missile Defense database to provide information at any time on how the Russian side intended to act if the worst came to the worst.”[24]

With the installation of another radar station in the Caucasus, which has already been mooted and discussed, the missile test ranges at Baikonur and Kapustin Yar could also be monitored.[25] Experts consider it possible that interceptor missiles deployed in Poland “could intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles en route to the United States (…). Moreover, the interceptors in Poland could also be turned into offensive weapons – possibly with nuclear but certainly with conventional warheads. Because of their geographical proximity, they would be regarded by Russia’s military planners as a major threat to their country’s own nuclear-missile silos”.[26]

What the Russians fear most of all, however, is that the deployment of missiles in Poland will not be the end of the matter. Other deployment locations are already under discussion, including Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Georgia. Russians are already contemplating the possibility that an additional missile base will become operational every year after the deployment in Poland. At the same time, the stock of Russian ICBMs is likely to be sharply reduced in the period up to 2020 because of obsolescence. Russia will scarcely be able to afford the cost of developing its submarine-based nuclear force. It follows that “a drastically increased number of interceptors in Eastern Europe, combined with their technical advancement (e.g. multiple-kill vehicles), will undermine Russia’s nuclear second-strike capability and hence the essence of the logic of deterrence”.[27]

Russian concerns are being deepened by the rejectionist position that Washington has been taking on the extension of START I, which is due to expire in 2009 and which limits the number of ICBMs and warheads, and its expansion into an agreement that provides scope for genuine scrutiny. The SALT II Agreement (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement) has not been ratified by the United States. After relentless Russian pressure for an agreement, the United States declared itself willing to sign the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which provides for limitation of the two countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals by 2012. That treaty, however, constitutes “a solution tailored to the needs of the United States” and is therefore “another defeat for Russia”.[28] SORT lays down that the United States and Russia may each maintain 1 700 to 2 200 combat-ready strategic nuclear warheads, but it provides for hardly any verification instruments and leaves open the option of storing deactivated nuclear weapons rather than scrapping them. It is estimated that the United States has another 5 000 intact warheads in reserve and has components for 12 000 more, which can be quickly reassembled. The Peacekeeper ICBMs and their silos are merely being mothballed. Russia, by contrast, is unable to afford the costly storage and maintenance of such large numbers of warheads. Consequently, “SORT must be regarded as the basis for potential nuclear strategic superiority of the United States”.[29]

The capability of the United States to take out Russia’s second-strike potential with a surprise first strike has thus been increased, as has the scope for using that capability as an instrument of coercion. This is why, in the spring of 2007, when he was still President of Russia, Vladimir Putin stated that the US system of missile defence in Eastern Europe assumed comparable dimensions for Russia to the deployment of Pershing II missiles under NATO’s ‘twin-track’ INF decision of 12 December 1979.[30]

The Russian reaction

Faced with the threatening US plans, President Vladimir Putin vented his anger at the NATO security conference in Munich at the start of 2007. He took the liberty there “to dispense with excessive politeness“ and, instead of speaking in “roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms”,[31] to do some straight talking. He roundly condemned the political double standards of the United States and NATO. Russia, he said, regarded the enlargement of NATO as “a serious provocation”. Putin rejected the arguments for missile defence as lacking credibility and stated that deployment would be the “next step in an inevitable arms race”.

In May 2007, the Russian armed forces tested a new RS-24 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple warheads designed to overcome the missile-defence system. Russia’s bomber fleet has now resumed its constant flights with live nuclear weapons. The country’s nuclear forces have been put on a higher state of alert. At the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in June 2007, Vladimir Putin proposed joint use of the Russian radar installation at Gabala in Azerbaijan if the United States gave up its plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic. The Russian installation would have a better view of Iran but would be less able to observe operations in Russian territory. The non-committal response of the United States speaks volumes about its real intentions, which is precisely why Russia has reacted in turn by putting a question mark against its continued participation in major arms-control agreements.

Finally, at the beginning of November 2008, in the annual presidential message to the Russian Parliament, President Dmitry Medvedev announced the deployment of Iskander M-type short-range missiles, which have a range of 500 km, in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. This would make Poland, as well as parts of the Czech Republic and Germany, potential targets for Russian missiles.[32]

The German position

From Germany there is no more than muted criticism of the US plans. It has been levelled primarily at the unilateralism of the Bush Administration. It is clearly understood in Berlin that George Bush was using the missile-defence issue to drive a wedge between the European Allies. Following President Putin’s Munich speech in February 2007, a divergence of views became apparent within the Grand Coalition. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, emphasised the need for close coordination with Russia. From the CDU came support for the US position, particularly as regards the assessment of the alleged threat from Iran. In March 2007, the Federal Chancellor made her first clear statement on the subject, calling for the US missile-defence system to become a joint NATO project.[33] On 20 May 2008, during a visit to Poland, ‘Defence’ Minister Franz Josef Jung, together with his Polish counterpart, Bogdan Klich, expressed support for a NATO missile shield. Dr Jung emphasised that Germany was open to the idea of a NATO missile-defence capability, including the elements of the planned US system in Europe.[34]

It is, however, improbable, to say the least, that the United States would let NATO control parts of its national missile shield. Moreover, Russia would scarcely consider such a system to be any less threatening if it were under NATO command. “Any European missile-defence network that includes elements of a US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic would be aimed against Russia”, commented Andrei Nesterenko, chief spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, in Moscow on Monday, 8 December 2008. “According to the final communiqué of the NATO foreign ministers, any version of the NATO missile-defence network in Europe will include the elements of the US global missile defence placed in Poland and the Czech Republic. This statement allows us to conclude that the so-called ‘integrated’ European missile-defence network will be aimed against Russia”.[35] This raises the suspicion that the proposal is more of a propaganda trick designed to convince the public of the ‘rationality’ of a NATO missile shield.[36]

The Bundeswehr, meanwhile, has been pressing ahead with its own research and analyses on missile defence. The German Air Force, for example, “is currently conducting its own national studies on system architecture and hit-rate analysis at high altitudes”.[37] The arms industry is also frantically signalling its interest. “In Germany, therefore, all the necessary technology is available for the development and production of a TMD (theatre missile defence) capability”.[38]

Policy shift on missile defence?

“Bush bequeaths a minefield”, wrote the Russian news agency RIA Novosti on 1 November 2008. And indeed, the younger Bush took office with a team containing a majority of unilateralists, a team that was more intent on the uncompromising pursuit of American military superiority than any previous US administration.[39] Barack Obama and his team are expected to be more flexible and consult more with the other NATO Allies. On the other hand, Obama’s ‘democratic charisma’ might be the very thing to give US leaders more scope than they had under George Bush Jr to “play uncompromisingly hard if they have to”.[40]

While the Bush Administration forged ahead at top speed with the deployment of a missile-defence system in Europe, there have been discussions among the Obama crew about prioritisation in the modernisation of the US armed forces. At the beginning of December 2008, the Pentagon announced the eighth successful missile-defence test, but experts have their doubts about the reality of the test conditions. Moreover, a system of missile defence can still be fairly easily overcome simply by increasing the number of targets. This can be done by using missiles with multiple warheads or by firing a large number of dummies. Secondly, the cost of the missile-defence programme is spiralling out of control. A think-tank of the Democratic Party, the Washington-based Center for American Progress, recently put the amount that could be saved by cancelling the project at $25 billion and, in its report entitled Building a Military for the 21st Century – New Realities, New Priorities, argued that “Further deployment of the GMD [ground-based missile defence] system should be halted until it proves itself in realistic operational tests”.[41]

This may mean that there will be adjustments to the pace of the programme. It would be illusory, however, to draw the conclusion that the missile-defence project will be killed under the Obama presidency. What Barack Obama actually wants is an efficient and cost-effective system that works. In particular, the Obama Administration is likely to press the European NATO members to help meet the huge cost of the system. Russia – and, for that matter, the ‘rogue states’ that have become targets of the US nuclear strategy – will not meekly accept these aggressive plans but will take their own countermeasures. Accordingly, if NATO, at its 2009 spring summit, were to carry out its intention of continuing to press ahead with the creation of a missile shield, a new arms race would be on the cards.


[1] Alexander Bitter, Die NATO und die Raketenabwehr. Implikationen für Deutschland vor dem Gipfel in Bukarest 2008. Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) study, October 2007.

[2] MEADS was approved by the Bundestag in April 2005 with the votes of the SPD, the Greens and the CDU/CSU. Its effectiveness is disputed. According to the Bundeswehr Plan for 2006, it will cost about €3.8bn, but the Federal Audit Office expects the cost to exceed €6bn. See, for example Bernd W. Kubbig, ‘Raketenabwehrsystem MEADS: Entscheidung getroffen, viele Fragen offen’, in Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, HRSK-Report 10/2005.

[3] Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC/US) was appointed to lead the consortium. The other member companies are Boeing (US), Diehl (GE), EADS ST (FR), IABG (GE), TNO (NL), Raytheon (US), Alenia Spazio (IT) and Thales (FR).

[4] Alexander Bitter, Die NATO und die Raketenabwehr …. All figures about the cost of a European missile-defence system are based on rough estimates, as the SWP study concedes. There are even some scenarios based on a total cost of €50 billion.

[5] Bucharest Summit Declaration, 3 April 2008, paragraph 37.

[6] Alexander Bitter, Die NATO und die Raketenabwehr …

[7] Strategic Concept of the Alliance, 24 April 1999, paragraph 62.

[8] See, for example, Marylia Kelley, ‘Das Kernwaffenprogramm der USA: eine Herausforderung für Abrüstungsbemühungen’, in Wissenschaft und Frieden, No 1/2005.

[9] See, for example, Jürgen Wagner, ‘Vom Containment zur Pax Americana: Die Nationale Sicherheitsstrategie der USA’, in Sozialismus, November 2002.

[10] Harald Müller and Annette Schaper, ‘US-Nuklearpolitik nach dem Kalten Krieg’, in Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, HSFK-Report 3/2003.

[11] Robert Kagan and William Kristol, ‘The Present Danger’, in The National Interest, No 59, Spring 2000, as quoted in Thomas Mitsch and Jürgen Wagner, ‘Erstschlag und Raketenabwehr: Die nukleare Dimension des neuen Kalten Krieges und die Rolle der NATO’, in AUSDRUCK – Das IMI-Magazin, June 2007.

[12] Martin Deuerlein, ‘Zwischen atomarer Abrüstung und atomarer Aufrüstung: Die amerikanischen Programme für neue nukleare Gefechtsköpfe’. Discussion paper of the Research Group on Security Policy, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, November 2008.

[13] Klaus Naumann et al., Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership, at

[14] Markus Frenzel, ‘Einsatzoption Atombombe?’ Transcript of feature in ARD TV magazine programme Fakt, 21 April 2008.

[15] ibid.

[16] Ian Traynor, ‘Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told in Brussels’, in The Guardian, 22 January 2008.

[17] «Canard»: Gipfel spricht auch über Mini-Atombomben, DPA, 2 April 2008.

[18] Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Raketenabwehr in Europa – die Diskussion in den USA, Tschechien, Polen und Russland. Discussion paper, August 2007.

[19] Gerhard Mangott and Martin Senn, ‘Rückkehr zum Kalten Krieg? Das russländisch-amerikanische Zerwürfnis über die Raketenabwehr in Osteuropa’, in Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft, 3/2007 .

[20] Frank Elbe and Ulrich Weisser, ‘Der Raketenstreit wächst sich zu einer internationalen Krise aus’, in German Society for Foreign Affairs, DGAP-Standpunkt, June 2007.

[21] Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, ‘The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy’, in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.

[22] Götz Neuneck and Jürgen Altmann, ‘US-Raketenabwehr – Ein Danaer-Geschenk für Europa und die Welt?’, in Wissenschaft und Frieden, No 1/2008.

[23] Wolfgang Kötter, ‘Großer Lauschangriff auf den russischen Bären’ in Freitag, No 43/2007.

[24] ibid.

[25] Gerhard Mangott and Martin Senn, ‘Rückkehr zum Kalten Krieg …’

[26] Der Spiegel online, 2 April 2007

[27] Gerhard Mangott and Martin Senn, ‘Rückkehr zum Kalten Krieg …’

[28] ibid..

[29] ibid.

[30] As a result of NATO’s INF decision of 12 December1979, 108 Pershing II intermediate-range nuclear missiles were deployed in Germany. With a flight time of five minutes to Moscow, there was practically no warning time and no opportunity to raise the alarm in the event of a faulty launch, and so these intermediate-range missiles posed a strategic threat to the Soviet Union.

[31] RIA Novosti, 13 February 2007. An English version of President Putin’s speech in Munich is accessible at.

[32] RIA Novosti, 5 November 2008.

[33] Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14 March 2007.

[34] Verteidigungsminister Dr. Jung zieht positive Zwischenbilanz während seines Besuchs in Polen. Press release from the Federal Ministry of Defence, 20 May 2008.

[35] RIA Novosti, 8 December 2008.

[36] See Thomas Mitsch and Jürgen Wagner, ‘Erstschlag und Raketenabwehr: Die nukleare Dimension des neuen Kalten Krieges und die Rolle der NATO’, in AUSDRUCK – Das IMI-Magazin, June 2007.

[37] Newsletter Verteidigung, edition 13, week 44, 28 October 2008, at

[38] ibid.

[39] Harald Müller and Annette Schaper, ‘US-Nuklearpolitik nach dem Kalten Krieg…’

[40] Richard Herzinger, ‘Amerikas erneuerter Missionsauftrag’, in Welt am Sonntag, 9 November 2008.

[41] Junge Welt, 12 December 2008.

Appendix: The network of the missile-defence lobby

The authors of the study entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World are closely involved in the network of the armaments and nuclear lobby. After his military career, John Shalikashvili was a director of Boeing. Among other hardware, the Boeing group makes carrier missiles for US nuclear warheads. Jacques Lanxade used to work for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which is supplying the new M51 missile for the French nuclear force. Lord Inge and Klaus Naumann are on the board of the OWR company, which supplies military forces throughout the world with NBC protective gear and decontamination systems.

In the United States in particular, policies, and especially military policies, are not made in the White House alone. The military-industrial complex, the Pentagon and the arms industry, the think-tanks they fund and the nuclear-weapons laboratories all wield enormous power. Even the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton was forced to bow to their influence. Its attempt to make fundamental changes to the US nuclear-war strategy and to the size and structure of the country’s nuclear forces was thwarted by a ‘revolt of the military bureaucracy’. In that domain, “alternative thinking was practically outlawed”, while civilian supervision and democratic principles were stifled. [1]

At that time, Clinton had to beat a retreat and accept a Nuclear Posture Review that preserved the whole triad of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-based missiles, provided for a stock of warheads in excess of the START II limit and, for the first time, threatened the use of nuclear weapons against countries with no nuclear capabilities of their own. A key instrument on missile defence, the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, bears the signature of the Democratic President, Bill Clinton. “It is the policy of the United States“, the Act affirms, “to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack”.[2]

Observers expect the ‘bipartisan political consensus’ on the subject of missile defence to be maintained. “What is more, the continuous and high funding levels of about $9 billion to $10 billion per year have created an enormous and densely knit network. (…) The stable network of actors and interests has turned the ‘ABM, SDI, BMD, MD animal’ into a hungry dinosaur which will look for food all the time”.[3] The stakes are high for US arms giants such as TRW, Raytheon und Lockheed, but also for EU armaments companies like Thales, Diehl and EADS). “All in all, the US has spent more than US$110 billion on missile defense since the mid-1980s.“ [4] These conglomerates will do everything in their power to preserve their sinecures and the prospect of future profits, and even in the Obama team there should be enough people who will support them in these efforts.

[1] Harald Müller and Annette Schaper, ‘US-Nuklearpolitik nach dem Kalten Krieg’, op. cit.


[3] Bernd W. Kubbig, Has Missile Defense Lived Up to Its Promises? State of the Art, Transatlantic Relations and International Challenges, Berlin, 24 June 2008.

[4] Center for Security Studies (CSS), ‘US Missile Defense: A Strategic Challenge for Europe’. CSS Analyses in Security Policy, No 12, Zurich, April 2007.

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