REGIONAL BALLISTIC MISSILE
DEFENSE IN THE CONTEXT OF
Joint Committees on
Ballistic Missile Defense in the Context of Strategic Stability
Committee on International Security and Arms Control
Policy and Global Affairs
A Consensus Study Report of the
In Collaboration with
The Russian Academy of Sciences
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by Grant No. B 8810.R01 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Presidents’ Committee Fund of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-46891-6
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-46891-4
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24964
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Suggested citation: National Academy of Sciences. 2021. Regional Ballistic Defense in the Context of Strategic Stability. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24964.
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JOINT COMMITTEES ON BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE IN THE CONTEXT OF STRATEGIC STABILITY
National Academy of Science (NAS) Committee
Ambassador Linton F. Brooks (Chair), Independent Consultant
Roger W. Falcone, University of California, Berkeley
Steven A. Fetter, University of Maryland (February 2015–June 2015)
Raymond Jeanloz, National Academy of Sciences, University of California, Berkeley
Major General Robert H. Latiff (retired), Independent Consultant
Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Committee
Major General Vladimir Z. Dvorkin (retired) (Chair), Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO, RAS)
Alexei G. Arbatov, IMEMO, RAS
Anatoli S. Diakov, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Colonel General Viktor I. Esin (retired), Institute of the United States and Canada, RAS
General Vladimir N. Yakovlev (retired), Russian Academy of Engineering (March 2015–March 2016)
Rita S. Guenther, Study Director, Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC)
Micah Lowenthal, Director, CISAC
Nicole Cervenka, Research Associate, CISAC (from December 2018)
Hope R. Hare, Administrative Assistant, CISAC (from July 2018)
Yuri K. Shiyan, Director of RAS CISAC, head of the Office for Coordination of International Scientific Programs and Projects, Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy and Biochemistry of the RAS
Consultant to the Joint Committees
Jaganath Sankaran, Assistant Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
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For decades, ballistic missile defense (BMD) has been a source of contention between the United States and the Russian Federation. Tensions became more acute following the 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.1 From the U.S. standpoint, this withdrawal was unrelated to Russia and was necessary to allow deployment of missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland and allies from a ballistic missile attack from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the Islamic Republic of Iran, which the United States believed were developing nuclear weapons. In contrast, Russia saw U.S.-NATO ballistic missile defenses as a step down a path that would ultimately threaten their strategic nuclear deterrent. Many Russians assumed that this was the intent of the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and that concerns over North Korea and Iran were not genuine.
Although six joint U.S.-Russian and NATO-Russian command-post computer-based exercises on coordinated BMD were conducted between 1998 and 2008, after the 2007 U.S. decision to create a third site for regional missile defense in Poland, ballistic missile defense increasingly became a confrontational issue. As a result, those exercises ceased. Disagreements over U.S. plans for deployment of ballistic missile defenses in Europe threatened to make further strategic dialogue, let alone new arms control measures, impossible. Further, overall Russian-American relations became increasingly adversarial in the following years, especially following the 2014 Russian incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation. By late 2016, relations between the two countries reminded many of the Cold War.
In early 2015, in the face of these developments, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences made what many believed to be a curious decision. For decades, the two academies have held a robust dialogue on strategic and nuclear issues that allows for technically rich discussion of important issues at times that are not otherwise ripe for such discussions at official, government-to-government levels. The two academies occasionally conduct joint studies resulting from this ongoing dialogue. After considerable discussion, the academies concluded that cooperation on regional BMD was a suitable subject for such a joint study.
The two academies and the joint committees they created to conduct this study recognized that any cooperation on ballistic missile defense was politically impossible under current conditions (see biographies of members of NAS and RAS joint committees in Appendix D). They nonetheless chose to conduct the study for three reasons:
- Political conditions can change. The joint committees refuse to believe that the current confrontational relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation is destined to endure permanently.
- Technical analysis can provide ideas and identify opportunities for the governments to explore in more detail. This report provides the first technically sound, jointly produced report demonstrating that some forms of cooperation are technically feasible, militarily beneficial to
- both countries, and a threat to neither. As such, it will be valuable to both states when political conditions improve.
- The limited cooperation on BMD conducted between 1998 and 2008 proves that cooperation is possible (and beneficial) even during times of significant disagreement.
The joint committees understand the importance of ballistic missile defense to strategic stability. However, we believe that, far from being destabilizing, cooperation on BMD may help improve overall strategic stability. By focusing on improving defense against missiles that Russia and the United States were prohibited from having under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty),2 the proposed cooperation steers away from each country’s strategic deterrent. Information sharing, which is the thrust of this report, may improve the ability of both countries to address third-country ballistic missile threats, thus improving each country’s security. It was our hope that cooperation in this area would also help the nations to resolve reciprocal allegations of violations of the INF Treaty. Since the completion of the report, the United States and the Russian Federation have indicated their intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty. The countries are at a critical juncture, and the next steps will determine whether we return to an arms race or chart a more stable path.
Even before these latest developments, the joint committees stated that there is more work to be done, and we were under no illusion that there is an easy path to cooperation on BMD. The poor state of U.S.-Russian relations has worsened since this study began. Even when the governments are ready to work together, they will need to conduct more detailed analyses of technical capabilities and threats at that time, drawing on their more complete national information and analytical resources. Furthermore, the joint committees did not evaluate costs, which are important to any development, production, and deployment decisions.
Implementation of information-sharing proposals would also require steps such as establishing joint government-to-government policy and technical committees to work through sensitive and, in some cases, complicated issues. This report provides reasons to believe that such work is worthwhile.
This report was completed in 2017, but some logistical difficulties delayed its release. As a result, the characterization of North Korean missile capabilities, which advanced faster than almost anyone predicted, may not be current as of the date of publication. The joint committees, however, conducted our analyses to be applicable beyond a single point in time.
The joint committees thank all those who provided briefings for the study. The information and expertise that the briefers shared were invaluable to the writing of this report. We especially appreciate the excellent support of consultant Jaganath Sankaran, who performed much of the technical analysis presented in the report. We are grateful to Analytical Graphics, Inc., for the use of their software package Systems Tool Kit to generate representations of missile tracks and satellite line-of-sight coverage.
While the joint committees have neither the mandate nor the ability to improve the overall political relationship, we look forward to such improvements. When political conditions permit, our report will provide technically grounded ideas for both states to improve their security and increase strategic stability. It is our unanimous hope that such a day comes soon.
|Ambassador Linton Brooks||General Vladimir Dvorkin|
|National Academy of Sciences Committee||Russian Academy of Sciences Committee|
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Michael Elleman, the International Institute for Strategic Studies; Richard Garwin, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center; Conrad Grant, Johns Hopkins University; Eugene Habiger, United States Air Force (ret.); Steven Hildreth, Congressional Research Service; David Montague, Lockheed Martin Corporation (ret.); Malcolm O’Neill, United States Army (ret.); Pavel Podvig, Russian Nuclear Forces; Brad Roberts, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Sergey Rogov, Russian Academy of Sciences; and George Sutton, Analysis and Applications, Inc.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Mona Dreicer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Stephen Robinson, University of Wisconsin–Madison. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
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