I first want to thank Vice Admiral Hill for the opportunity to share the State Department’s direction on missile defense. I have the privilege to lead the Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Bureau, or AVC as it is known, which is charged with engaging foreign partners on shared missile defense interests and advancing missile defense policy in support of U.S. national security policies and objectives. AVC has many other important responsibilities, but for today, I will focus on missile defense.
I have said before, and will continue to say that I am impressed with the critical missile defense and other national security work that is being done by all of you here today. On behalf of the entire State Department, I thank you for that effort and I look forward to working with you on the challenges and, more importantly, the opportunities ahead.
All of this, and my remarks to follow, underscore the objectives outlined in the 2019 Missile Defense Review, significant sections of which AVC was proud to provide input toward. The MDR, together with the Trump Administration’s National Security and National Defense Strategies, as well as the Nuclear Posture Review, will guide our missile defense engagement for the next several years.
While we are confident that together with our allies and partners we remain able to deter and defeat aggression, the gap between our advantages and our potential adversaries’ capabilities has narrowed. While we have remained faithful adherents to arms control treaties, our great power competitors have modernized and built-up their conventional and nuclear forces, and in Russia’s case violated their commitments, leaving us with no choice but to compete and drive toward a new era of arms control. In particular, Russia and China are fielding a broad and expanding arsenal of new, exotic and more innovative and advanced technologies capable of threatening the United States, our forces abroad, and our allies and partners.
The air and missile threat is not getting any easier to address. It is, in fact, increasing in scope and complexity. Defending against ballistic missiles is an even greater challenge as adversaries develop and deploy systems that are more accurate, have maneuverable warheads, and possess countermeasures that can significantly challenge defensive systems. The scope of the challenge also has expanded to include additional non-ballistic systems such as hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles, and low flying land attack cruise missiles that are highly maneuverable and present a 360º threat.
These emerging technologies must be added to our missile defense planning calculus and we must start addressing these challenges now, as a community of responsible nations who face adversaries bent on using their missile arsenals to coerce us. Multinational cooperation is the aim of all of us here today, but no nation should ever wait for consensus to take the initiative or develop the solutions that may one day protect us all. AVC sees its primary missile defense mission as being the steward of continuous and expanding negotiations and communications with our allies and partners that will help enable us to turn these security challenges into opportunities that counter the tide of increasing offensive missile threats of all types.
I would like to be very clear on the following point: as has been the policy of the United States for many Administrations, missile defenses and arms control are separate and distinct tools. Our missile defenses are in place for the common defense of the United States and our allies and partners against real and expanding threats. The United States’ ability to defend itself from adversaries who seek to do our homeland harm, and our allies’ and partners’ homelands harm, is not a capability to be negotiated away.
We face an increasingly complex security environment, in which the central challenge to our prosperity and security is the reemergence of great power competition from Beijing and Moscow. Although they present separate challenges, each with unique attributes, both China and Russia pose increasing security threats to the United States, our allies, and partners.
Great power competition with China and Russia requires increased U.S., allied, and partner defense investment because of the magnitude of the threats they pose today, and the potential that such threats could pose in the future. We also must simultaneously strengthen our efforts to deter and counter the clear and present dangers posed by rogue states like Iran.
Russia is developing a new generation of advanced technologies to include regional ballistic and cruise missiles that support its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) posture, which is intended to prevent the United States and its allies and partners from countering Russian aggression in regional crises or conflicts. Novel nuclear weapons systems, in addition to existing ones, appear to be a central element of Russia’s nuclear doctrine and such weapons harken back to an age when a nuclear balance of terror reigned.
Recent Russian machinations surrounding the Skyfall incident demonstrate that Russia has much to answer for regarding the events of August 8th, 2019. As we recently briefed at the UN First Committee, the United States has determined that the explosion near Nenoksa, Russia, was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile. The missile remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed flight test early last year, in close proximity to a major population center.
Not only do Russia’s behaviors related to this incident betray the transparency and trust expected of a treaty partner, but they provide a strong indicator of Russia’s direction and determination to develop and deploy precedent-setting, exotic weapons of terror and mass destruction. Countering these new threats, requires a renewed investment in both deterrence and arms control, which the Trump Administration has spent the last few months and years focused on.
Russia’s irresponsible Skyfall program is just one example of its continued pursuit of destabilizing strategic systems. And that gets to the very heart of our discussions regarding the future of New START. It’s not necessarily what’s covered under the Treaty, but what isn’t covered – non-strategic nuclear weapons and some of these new kinds of strategic systems Russia has been developing. These are threats to the United States and our allies.
This Administration’s position has been clear for some time now – we need a new era of arms control in which Russia and China are at the negotiating table and willing to reduce nuclear risks rather than heighten them. The more assertive China and Russia become and the more they seek an unconstrained strengthening of their nuclear arsenals, especially through new destabilizing weapons, the more they will seek to coerce free nations in their regions.
China continues to build-up its nuclear capabilities and capacity. Indeed, China looks set to double the size of its nuclear stockpile over the next decade – yet it has refused to engage in a meaningful arms control and risk reduction discussion with the United States. China remains opaque, unaccountable, and unrestrained in its pursuit to dominate the Indo-Pacific region and use nuclear weapons as its backstop. For quite some time now President Trump has called on ushering China into a new era of arms control alongside the United States and Russia. Yet countless overtures to invite China to the arms control table and engage in bilateral risk reduction discussions have been met with obfuscation and resistance. All the while Russia and China engage in bilateral risk reduction on their ballistic missile arsenals through a bilateral agreement on ballistic missile launch notifications, in place since 2009. China may say it’s a weaker power and thus unwilling to talk to other great powers on issues of arms control and risk reduction. Its public agreements with Russia disprove that, however.
Turning to the cornerstone of Trans-Atlantic security, the NATO Alliance. The U.S.-developed European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), which is the U.S. contribution to NATO ballistic missile defense, currently consists of a missile defense radar in Turkey, sustained deployment of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense-capable ships in the Mediterranean, and an Aegis Ashore BMD interceptor site in Romania which reached initial operational capability in 2016. We are also working diligently to complete construction of the Aegis Ashore site in Poland. As a clear demonstration of our commitment to NATO missile defense, when the Aegis Ashore site in Romania underwent a scheduled update, the United States temporarily deployed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Romania during the upgrade.
I was fortunate to have been able to visit the Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu while THAAD was deployed and can attest by what I saw and heard myself, that U.S. contributions to NATO’s ballistic missile defense architecture, along with the amazing contributions of our Romanian and Polish Allies, stand ready to defend Europe and the United States from potential threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, including the missile folly underway in Iran. I would like to clarify, again, a point that has grown tedious amongst us here, and that is the tired drumbeat of long-proven false assertions that our Aegis Ashore sites harbor a thinly veiled or convertible offensive strike capability and were, therefore, a violation of the now defunct INF Treaty. We have no desire to continue discussing or re-litigating INF, particularly where Aegis Ashore, a defensive system, is concerned.
All of you in this room know that Aegis Ashore has never been designed, engineered, or tested for an offensive strike capability. Aegis Ashore lacks every vital command, control, communications, and weapons support architecture, software, and hardware required for the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile. Narratives to the contrary exist only in the imaginations of Russia’s information operations machine. It’s time to stop.
We are excited to be working with NATO allies and partners to make Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) that provides 360 degree coverage of Europe against all air and missile threats, an operational reality. The U.S. Department of State stands ever ready to work with each of you as we combine our talents, technology, and resources necessary to realizing NATO IAMD 360 degree coverage.
The United States recognizes and applauds the efforts of our NATO Allies in developing and deploying their own national contributions to air and missile defense. The United Kingdom is investing in a ground-based radar. Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy have mobile theater IAMD capabilities which have played a role in NATO missions. Poland and Romania are in the process of procuring interoperable capabilities such as the Patriot system.
Within the Indo-Pacific, Japan remains one of the United States’ most important allies. We learn and benefit greatly with each shared effort with our good friends in Japan. The $3.6B SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project has been the cornerstone of U.S.-Japan missile defense cooperation and we are entering the production phase of the SM-3 Block IIA missile. Japan has a robust missile defense capability and hosts a significant number of U.S. BMD assets. We look forward to future potential BMD cooperation as we proceed with efforts to bolster our already strong mutual defense.
The Republic of Korea (ROK), another stalwart of mutual defense in East Asia, and with whom we share a 66 year old Alliance, is an important missile defense partner. This partnership, with the advantages of combining missile defense assets in the region, greatly increases ROK security and the security of U.S. interests on the Korean peninsula.
Israel is another vital partner for the United States, and as we know faces missile threats from Iran, and elsewhere. The United States bilateral security relationship with Israel dates back many decades and we continue to work together on several missile defense projects. These projects include the Arrow and David’s Sling systems, as well as the Iron Dome system. These systems contribute to a multilayered defense architecture which has proven capable of defending Israel from a multitude of threats. Recognizing the prowess and effectiveness of Israeli missile defense systems, the U.S. Army announced this year that they are purchasing Iron Dome weapons systems in order to enhance their Indirect Fire Protection Capability. Elsewhere across the region, Saudi Arabia has begun the process to acquire a significant THAAD capability and Bahrain has decided to acquire Patriot. This is in addition to the already substantial missile defense forces in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.
We at the Department of State offer many policy tools aimed at raising the cost – be it financial or political – of doing business with those who seek to develop or contribute to the missile capabilities of rogue nations and non-state entities. Such efforts include enforcing sanctions and contributing to the interdiction of shipments of illicit goods.
Let me close by noting that air and missile defense capabilities and the shared commitment of the United States, allies and partners benefit us all. Our shared efforts and commitment will continue to play an important role supporting our defense and foreign policy objectives into the future of this still young century. Our success, not only in missile defense, but our determination to live in freedom, depends on the mutual efforts, cooperation, and respect by and with you; this never goes unnoticed, unconsidered, or unappreciated by the United States and we thank you.