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A NATO-Russia Missile Shield?

It went kind of underneath the radar yesterday when President Obama decided to replace the proposed outdated-before-it-was-ever-built anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic with a new four-phased plan for Iran-based missile defense, but Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had an intriguing speculation about what the decision might open the door to yielding:

The President’s decision also opens the door to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would send a powerful signal to Iran. It could also help increase our regional missile defense capability if Russia shares missile flight data from its Armavir radar. NATO has repeatedly supported U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense. President Obama’s decision will not threaten Russia, and it offers an opportunity for missile defense to serve as a uniting issue, rather than a dividing one.

I asked a Pentagon official about that, and the response I got was such a proposal didn’t in any sense *guide *the decision to jettison the Poland/Czech-based missile shield — “The main issue: why spend more money on a system that works less well?” the official said — but future U.S.-Russia anti-ballistic missile collaboration “may be a fringe benefit.”

Well, sure enough, here’s NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, sending up his own trial balloon from Brussels:

“We should explore the potential for linking the US, NATO and Russia missile defense systems at an appropriate time,” Fogh Rasmussen said.

“Both NATO and Russia have a wealth of experience in missile defense. We should now work to combine this experience to our mutual benefit,” he added.

What will Russia say?

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