The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has announced at its Chicago, Illinois conference that it's long awaited missile defense shield is up and running for the first time. What it is being used for is the real question. The allies maintain that the defense shield is in place for one reason right now...Iran. But even that has some critics. Professor Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of these critics saying: "The fundamental long-term threat from Iran is from nuclear weapons. But for now Iran does not have the bomb. A ballistic missile without a nuclear weapon," he says, "is like a terrorist bomber without an explosive vest."
The network of US early-warning satellites; a new high-powered X-Band radar based in Turkey; and at least one Aegis-equipped US warship, deployed in the Mediterranean, capable of shooting down an incoming ballistic missile. It will also rely on some of Nato's European members will offer elements of their existing air defenses: Patriot missiles in Germany and the Netherlands for example to further bolster the system. "Missile defense," Professor Sean Kay, an expert on Nato said, "is a very important step towards re-invigorating the core collective defense foundation of Nato, which all the allies should appreciate."
In turn Russia is not happy, going as far in recent weeks to having Putin threaten airstrikes against sites related to the shield. It feels as though this shield is making their Nuclear capability diminished. Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow is one of Russia's most acute strategic observers. "Russia," he says, "sees US ballistic missile defense plans as global in scope". "The concern," he believes, is that "strategic defense impacts upon strategic offense; devaluing the deterrent value of Russia's own nuclear arsenal."
picture courtesy of the BBC