On missile defenses, Mr. Kyl was particularly harsh in noting that the administration is “headed in the wrong direction.”
The administration “seems to have decided that its primary goal in missile defense is to make sure the Russians are not offended,” Mr. Kyl said.
“Their policy has been to curtail defense of the homeland, our U.S. strategic or homeland missile-defense requirements, in favor of regional missile defenses insofar as those do not offend the Russians.”
Noting the administration’s shift away from long-range defenses in Europe toward regional defenses, Mr. Kyl said such defenses are needed but “are not sufficient, especially at the expense of defending our homeland.”
“But because any force that we would deploy that could theoretically be effective against a Russian missile will offend the Russians, then this administration is bound and determined not to go forward with it. That’s very dangerous.”
The administration has justified its conciliatory approach to missile-defense talks with Russia as a way to “reset” ties, but Mr. Kyl noted: “I have not seen a lot of evidence that this reset has really benefited the United States.”
He noted that the administration has cut funding for ground-based missile defenses against long-range threats by $4 billion between 2010 and 2013.
The cuts come at a time when the Pentagon has said the threat from North Korea’s long-range missiles that can hit the United States is growing, and Iran is testing space launchers that help its long-range missile capabilities, he noted.
Cooperation with Russia could be a good thing, but “it would be a very large mistake to, in effect, make them a partner in our missile defense system,” Mr. Kyl said.
He noted, as reported earlier in this space, that the Russians likely are seeking access to U.S. missile defense technology through such cooperation.
Talks with the Russians on missile defense could prove to be a “fool’s errand,” he said, “because, at least up to now, the Russians have made it pretty clear that they want nothing less than a finger on the red button” of control over a missile-defense system in Europe.
Mr. Kyl also stated that Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscherhas been leading the missile-defense talks with the Russians that “by the way, … are being kept secret from Congress.”
“We’ve asked several times to be briefed on what they are, and we’re told that, if something ever happens, they’ll let us know,” Mr. Kyl said.
The statement contradicts public comments by Ms. Tauscher who insisted in a speech to a conference on missile defense recently that there is nothing secret about the talks with Moscow.
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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