The Russians have the unfounded concern that future, more capable iterations of the Standard Missile-3 anti-missile interceptor would “undercut their strategic deterrent,” said Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. The SM-3 is a component of the European Phased Adaptive Approach ballistic missile defense system that the United States is establishing in phases in Europe to protect against missiles emanating from Iran. Speaking to reporters on Jan. 12 in Washington, D.C., Tauscher said the Russians are therefore demanding legally binding assurances to prevent EPAA from posing that threat. “I cannot give them assurances that look like limitations,” said Tauscher. “We have made it very clear. . . . We are going to not limit this system because the Russians are nervous about something.” Instead, she asserted, the Russians need “to sit with us in the tent and NATO and see what we are doing. It will only be their own eyes and ears” that convince them that EPAA is not destabilizing, she said. (For more Tauscher coverage, see Seeking Mutually Assured Stability and Full-course Dinner, not Just Dessert.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.