The Post reports this morning that a team of US and Russian technical experts want to put the kibosh on US plans for putting a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic:
A planned U.S. missile shield to protect Europe from a possible Iranian attack would be ineffective against the kinds of missiles Iran is likely to deploy, according to a joint analysis by top U.S. and Russian scientists.
The U.S.-Russian team also judged that it would be more than five years before Iran is capable of building both a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of carrying it over long distances. And if Iran attempted such an attack, the experts say, it would ensure its own destruction.
They concluded that the missile system isn’t important, in part, because, well, the threat isn’t there:
“The missile threat from Iran to Europe is thus not imminent,” the 12-member technical panel concludes in a report produced by the EastWest Institute, an independent think tank based in Moscow, New York and Belgium.
Their conclusions were reviewed by William Perry, President Clinton’s secretary of defense, who is a titan of the military-industrial complex and no dove. They’ll be presented to Jim Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser.
It’s clear that the Obama administration is quietly building the case that this provocative plan, pushed hard by George W. Bush and Co., isn’t needed and won’t work.
There are two angles to this story: first, it’s an important step in rebuilding relations with Russia — or pushing the famous “reset” button — which is a big step in itself. Second, it’s part of a judicious and careful Obama opening to Iran, downgrading the alleged threat from that country, and boosting chances that the opening might succeed.
On Iran, yesterday, Obama seemed to stand firm against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s efforts to ring every alarm bell he could find. Despite Netanyahu, and despite coordinated calls from Netanyahu’s US allies, Obama refused to set a deadline for talks with Iran, making it clear that such talks are open-ended. He did suggest that perhaps, by year’s end, he might be able to make a judgment about how things are going, but that’s far from the kind of short-fuse deadline that Netanyahu and the neocons want. Here’s the full text of Obama’s comments in that regard: