Center for Strategic Communication

Mr. Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy, joined the American Security Project for an “in-depth conversation” discussion on Missile Defense and European Security. Mr. Rose spoke on NATO’s current plans and the dynamics of U.S.-Russia negotiations on missile defense cooperation, and fielded questions on topics from the technical capability of missile interceptors to the administration’s new nuclear guidance.

To listen to the audio of the event, click here


Between election-year politics and the stalemate over legal guarantees, the prospects for big breakthroughs on the missile defense issue seem dim. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy Frank Rose says, “these things happen in baby steps.”

And there are small signs of progress in the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, despite the public stalemate. Mr. Rose pointed to hopeful signs in ongoing bilateral talks, in which the U.S. and Russia are discussing a defense technology cooperation agreement, joint modeling and simulation, and the possibility of two NATO-Russia centers for data exchanges and planning and operations coordination. The negotiations yielded one small success earlier this year with the resumption of NATO-Russia theater missile defense exercises.

Of course, Mr. Rose added, the difficulties of missile defense cooperation cannot be underestimated. The current stalemate between the U.S. and Russia revolves around Russia’s insistence on legal guarantees that the NATO missile shield is not targeted at Russia’s strategic deterrent. The current administration, like the previous, consistently maintains that European missile defenses are directed at the Middle East, not Russia. But guarantees that would legally limit U.S. capabilities are off the table.

Domestically, cooperation with Russia on missile defense has encountered some opposition within Congress. Some legislators object to sharing classified information with Russia – the House draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 even includes legislative language that would prevent such sharing, language that Mr. Rose says “will surely limit discussion” of missile defense cooperation.

Also of concern for members of Congress is the cost of the missile defense shield and the extent to which NATO members will financially contribute to that defense. Mr. Rose acknowledged this concern but noted that NATO serves to integrate weapons systems, and that sharing procurement costs is simply not how the organization functions.

All of these technical issues aside, the fundamental reason making progress on missile defense is so difficult, Mr. Rose argues, is mutual mistrust. The overarching U.S.-Russia strategic relationship, in which missile defense is just one part, is still defined by the Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction.

Moving from mutually assured destruction to mutually assured stability is difficult, Mr. Rose concluded, but ultimately that is what we will need in order to solve the many issues confronting the U.S. and Russia, from missile defense to arms control in space to the next round of strategic nuclear negotiations.

Check out our Perspective Paper on missile defense here.

Frank Rose’s Opening Statement:

Q&A :