The following was taken from a speech at the recent Royal United Services Institute Missile Defense Conference in London.

At the recent NATO summit in Chicago, the alliance announced that it has achieved an “interim missile defense capability.” The progress on missile defense is remarkable given that NATO only made its decision to develop a territorial ballistic missile defense capability 18 months ago. In that year and a half, the United States and our NATO allies have achieved an operationally significant peacetime ballistic missile defense capability.

That means that NATO now has its first missile defense radar, its first interceptors, a single commander and a NATO command and control system for ballistic missile defense.

This progress was possible only because NATO embraced President Barack Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), which is focused on protecting our European allies and deployed U.S. forces against the existing ballistic missile threats.

It has been a great privilege for me to have worked so closely with all of our allies over the last couple of years to reach this point, especially my colleagues in Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey. Because of their support and leadership, we were able to reach agreement on the basing of our missile defense assets in Europe.

As you know, last September, we made three big announcements. First, Turkey agreed to host the Phase 1 ANTPY-2 radar. Second, we signed the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement with Romania to host the Phase 2 land-based Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) site. Third, the U.S.-Poland agreement for the Phase 3 land-based site entered into force.

And then a few weeks later in early October, Spain agreed to serve as a home port for four Aegis destroyers.

As we like to say in the United States, that’s not bad for government work.

We also appreciate the other contributions by our NATO allies to this effort. Our allies will contribute more than $1 billion dollars in NATO Common Funding to the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence command and control system. The Netherlands has indicated that it will spend close to 250 million euros to modify the radars on its frigates to detect and track ballistic missiles at long ranges and contribute its Patriot missiles to NATO missile defense. Germany is also exploring developing an airborne infrared sensor. France has proposed a concept for a shared early warning satellite. There is much that our allies can contribute to NATO’s developing missile defense system.

Of course, the announcement in Chicago is just an initial but important step in implementing NATO’s territorial ballistic missile defense capability.

The Obama administration is committed to working with NATO on these efforts and deploying all four phases of the EPAA as our voluntary national contribution.

For our part, much work remains to be done on the systems that the United States will deploy as potential contributions to NATO missile defense, but considerable work has begun.

Just look at the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2013. Even in a constrained budget environment, the United States has protected the funding for the European Phased Adaptive Approach. These actions are a clear demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to European security and our Article 5 obligations.

At the same time as we are working with our NATO allies, there is a tremendous opportunity to develop a meaningful strategic partnership with Russia in the area of missile defense cooperation.

Missile defense cooperation can achieve two very important objectives.

First, it would allow Russia to see with its own eyes what we are doing on missile defense and it would give us time to demonstrate how our systems operate. It would allow Russia to see that the European Phased Adaptive Approach is not directed against Russia, but limited regional threats from outside of Europe.

Second, it could give the United States, NATO and Russia the opportunity to forge a true strategic partnership that enhances security for all.

I realize it takes time to build confidence. But we have that time. There are six years before we deploy Phase 3 in the 2018 timeframe. We should use that time positively on cooperation and not confrontation.

Russia should come inside the missile defense cooperation tent and see what we are doing.

During that time, we will be testing an Aegis ballistic missile defense site in Hawaii. We will be developing and testing the SM-3 Block 2A interceptors.

Russia has observed our intercept tests in the past, and the invitation to observe a future test still stands.

We will also be working with our NATO allies to ensure how to best protect NATO European populations and territory.

At the same time, the U.S., NATO and Russia can work together on a broad range of cooperation: sharing sensor data, working on developing common preplanned responses, conducting a joint analysis of missile defense systems and working together on missile defense exercises.

The United States and NATO have been transparent about our missile defense programs. We have provided Russia with a number of ideas and approaches for transparency, and we are also committed to discussing other approaches to building confidence between our two countries.

At Chicago, NATO made a very clear statement of our intent, declaring: “[T]he NATO missile defense in Europe will not undermine strategic stability. NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities.”

And, as I have told my Russian colleagues, if Russia doesn’t like what it has learned throughout this period of cooperation, then it can terminate cooperation at any point.

But that means getting Russia inside the missile defense tent now, working alongside the U.S. and NATO, while we are in the initial phases of deploying this capability. It will take time and effort to build the trust that is currently lacking on this issue.

But let me be clear. While we can work cooperatively together, we cannot agree to the preconditions outlined by the Russian government.

We are committed to deploying effective missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland and our allies and partners around the world from the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

We will not agree to limitations on the capabilities and numbers of our missile defense systems.

We cannot agree to any “criteria” that would, in effect, limit our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems that will protect us against regional threats such as Iran and North Korea.

If we can work together on European missile defense, and make this a subject for cooperation rather than competition, that would be a game-changer for our security relationship.

We understand that there are risks involved, and it takes courage to move away from long-held positions. We believe those risks are manageable.

The alternative is competition, something none of us can afford or wants.


Ellen Tauscher serves as the U.S. special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense.