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June 16, 2011
Notes from the Pentagon

Obama rejects missile deal
President Obama recently rejected a proposed missile-defense agreement with Russia that was developed by the State Department with the hope of coaxing Moscow into cooperation on countering Iranian missile threats.

The draft deal had been developed by Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, prior to the Group of Eight summit last month, where it was hoped the agreement would be signed by Mr. Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

The White House, however, decided against signing the pact amid concerns that the agreement would limit U.S. missile defenses, something the administration has promised it would not do. Russia, however, has sought such limits as part of its strategy for the ongoing talks with the United States on the subject.

According to a senior U.S. national security official close to the issue, the Russians were told in advance of the summit that the deal would be signed during the meeting of world leaders in Deauville, France, in late May.

"The president couldn't sign it," said the official, who noted that the Russians "felt they had been lied to." The official added that what was significant was that Mr. Obama turned down an arms agreement that was drafted by his own State Department.

The proposed deal included four parts that were worked out by Mrs. Tauscher and officials in her shop. They included unobjectionable sections on confidence-building measures and transparency.

The White House balked on the agreement because of two other parts. One involved a written assurance that treaty lawyers rejected as something Moscow could consider legally binding: a statement saying the Pentagon would not point missile-defense interceptors deployed in Europe at Russia.

A second provision that scuttled the deal involved language in the draft agreement that could be considered as limits on the numbers and capabilities of U.S. missile defenses.

As in the past, Congress has been left in the dark on the agreement, despite claims by Mrs. Tauscher and others that her dealings with Moscow on missile defenses are not secret.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to comment on the breakdown of the proposed agreement.

"I would simply say that we continue to seek, per the president's instructions, missile-defense cooperation with Russia, but we will not agree to any constraints or limits on our missile-defense systems," Mr. Toner said in an email to Inside the Ring.

Mrs. Tauscher, who aides say often refers to herself in meetings as "the Tausch," could not be reached for comment.

Following the summit, NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen said June 7 that NATO and Russia could not develop joint missile defense because the alliance would not "outsource" defense obligations to non-members.

Disclosure of the failed missile agreement comes as the Czech Republic government announced on Wednesday that it is canceling its participation in the administration's regional missile defense, based on a failure to properly include the Czechs in the system.

The administration has sought to limit missile defenses in Europe because of objections from Russia. The Czech withdrawal represents a failure of the administration to back pro-U.S. allies in Eastern Europe, said one U.S. official.

New China strategy
Defense Secretary-designate Leon E. Panetta revealed an emerging new U.S. military strategy toward China that is gaining new urgency as tensions between China and several states in Southeast Asia continue to rise.

In a little-noticed statement in Mr. Panetta's written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said he is launching a review of U.S. force posture in Asia in response to the "rise of new powers" - code for China.

Asked what specific force enhancements he plans for the U.S. military in Asia, Mr. Panetta stated: "If confirmed, I will review DoD's posture in Asia and make appropriate recommendations on any enhancements."

Mr. Panetta, currently CIA director, said he agreed that U.S. forces must be bolstered in Asia and noted that U.S. allies in the region "must remain confident in the continued strength of our deterrence against the full range of potential threats." The Pentagon "should maintain an enduring military presence in the Asia-Pacific region that provides a tangible reassurance that the United States is committed to Asias security, economic development and the prosperity essential to the regions success," he said. Security priorities in Asia include protecting U.S. territory, citizens and allies; deterring aggression and maintaining regional stability; and maintaining free and open access to the maritime, air and space domains, in addition to countering violent extremism and arms proliferation, Mr. Panetta said.a Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also highlighted the new strategy during a speech in Singapore June 4 when he spoke of "enhancing" U.S. forces and alliances in Asia.

Specifically, he mentioned the threat "that new and disruptive technologies and weapons could be employed to deny U.S. forces access to key sea routes and lines of communication," a reference to Chinese weapons, such as the anti-ship ballistic missile.

To counter the Chinese weapons, the Navy and Air Force are developing "a new concept of operations" called the Air-Sea Battle Concept "to ensure that Americas military will continue to be able to deploy, move and strike over great distances in defense of our allies and vital interests," Mr. Gates said, without mentioning China.

On Monday, Sens. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, and James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, introduced a Senate resolution condemning China's use of force in the South China Sea.

The resolution highlighted several incidents of Chinese harassment, including two recent encounters when Chinese vessels disabled the cables towed by Vietnamese energy-exploration ships. The resolution also noted the recent attempted ramming of a Philippines ship by a Chinese vessel and Chinese harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the past.

Japan thinks nuclear
A State Department cable made public on Tuesday from 2008 reveals new details about U.S. and Japanese strategic nuclear deterrence, including discussions by Tokyo about developing its own nuclear arms.

The Nov. 11, 2008, cable said Japanese officials were concerned about the reliability of the U.S. nuclear "umbrella" over Japan, "given the deteriorating nuclear situation around Japan, as North Korea continues to develop capabilities and China expands its arsenal."

The umbrella concept is called "extended deterrence" and commits U.S. nuclear forces to defending Japan from nuclear strikes or threats.

"There are some in Japan that are discussing indigenous nuclear development in Japan, partly due to a lack of confidence in the U.S. extended deterrence," said the cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, labeled "secret."

The Japanese were assured by defense officials that the U.S. nuclear-deterrence policy "remains strong," said the cable, made public on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The cable also stated that Japan was stepping up military space operations. The proposed measures included bolstering space-based intelligence functions and increasing technology cooperation with civilian space companies.

The cable also stated that Japan was considering deployment of space "assets and technology, such as early-warning satellites, signal-intelligence satellites, compact reconnaissance satellites, and sensor and jamming resistant technologies."

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