Does BMD weaken international security?


Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) is fuelling fears and triggering reactions that serve to actually decrease US security. Particularly it is unravelling and deteriorating decades of incremental steps towards better relations between ex-Cold War rivals. Its expansion, notably the Phased Adaptive Approach to BMD in Europe will further reduce the willingness to engage in bilateral disarmament.  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has made it clear that the US BMD programme represented a major barrier to better relations. Also, Obama’s rejection of Moscow’s attempt to link New START to the limitation of US BMD activity signals that it is hindering relations. This subverts Obama’s aim to use the cancelation of the Third Site BMD proposal in 2009 as a catalyst for new START with Russia, suggesting a focus on bilateral arms reductions and diplomatic help from Russia to deter Iran from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also, China might be provoked into taking measures which could alter its nuclear policy of minimum deterrence to guarantee it can overwhelm any BMD systems employed. The worst-case and most unlikely scenario suggested by a host of critics is that it could cause a newly ignited arms race that would ruin the existing arrangement of arms control. Therefore instead of BMD rendering nuclear weapons redundant it will actually serve to increase the importance of nuclear weapons, because other states will seek to modernise and expand their nuclear arsenals to overcome BMD systems. Ivanov argues that effective diplomatic and political mechanisms that build trust, stability and predictability of state behaviour to ensure that no state feels threatened is central to anti-nuclear order. Missile defence systems destabilize processes that aim to achieve these ends because it’s causing increasing suspicion and wariness.


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