International Perspectives on Missile Defense

With the exceptions of Japan and Israel, the United States have not been able to meet the support of many allies for their missile defense effort, while both Russia and China are strongly opposed to the concept. Concern about the potentially negative impact of missile defense on these two powers and the risk that a  new missile arms race could spill over into South Asia were two of the reasons why President Clinton delayed the NMD deployment decision in 2000. Rather than destroying its strategic relationship with Russia, the U.S. aims to build on it in one of two ways: by either persuading Russia to accept revisions to the ABM Treaty, which had been the Clinton administration's approach, or by installing a new 'strategic framework' outside legally binding international treaties, as the Bush administration now  intends to do. The United States has also offered high-level assurances to China,  that is however suspicious of the missile defense plan and remains opposed to it. Rushing ahead with NMD could lead to stand-off scenarios in the Asia-Pacific region similar to those that beset U.S.-Soviet relations in Europe during the Cold War. 


Moscow's position is that any American national missile shield would cause serious damage to the existing system of international security and arms control. Russia is in particular concerned about the ABM Treaty which it sees as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a safeguard against an unregulated post-Cold War arms race. From the Russian viewpoint, even the radar and sensors required for a limited version of the NMD system would provide the basis for a violation of the ABM Treaty. Even worse, the perspective of a comprehensive and working national missile defense would eventually undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. On the one hand, there seems to be a growing determination to preserve the ABM Treaty in its current form. On the other hand, there are also signs that Russia would possibly negotiate on a trade-off allowing the United States to deploy some missile defenses in exchange for deep cuts in strategic nuclear weapons. 

  • Press Release In Connection with Statements by U.S. Administration Officials on Russian-American Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, February 7, 2002

  • Statement by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regarding Adoption by U.N. General Assembly of a Resolution in Support of Preservation of and Compliance with ABM Treaty, November 30, 2001
    The U.N. General Assembly on November 29 voted 84-5 with 61 abstentions in favor of maintaining the ABM treaty, which governs American and Russian missile defenses. Russia welcomed the U.N. vote and said it was evidence of growing international support in the 29-year-old pact.

  • On the New ABM-Related Bill in US Congress, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, October 26, 2001
    In October 2001 a group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill S. 1565 "Relating to United States adherence to the ABM Treaty". Russia warmly welcomed that bill which underlines the great importance of the ABM Treaty for arms control, nuclear nonproliferation and the ensuring of the national security of the U.S.

  • Implications of the Sino-Russian Friendship Treaty, Subhash Kapila, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies September 4, 2001
    Analysis of the treaty’s significance for Moscow, Beijing, the United States, Japan and India.

  • The Challenges of Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership, Sherman Garnett, The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2001 (pdf)
    The United States should welcome the normalization of releations between Russia and China, but also consider the risks of Russian contribution to Chinese military modernization.

  • The Russia-China Friendship and Cooperation Treaty: A Strategic Shift in Eurasia? Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, July 18, 2001 (also pdf)
    The 'Treaty for Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation', signed in Moscow on July 16, should signal to the West that a major geopolitical shift may be taking place in the Eurasian balance of power, with serious implications for the United States and its alliances.

  • The Sino-Russian Friendship Treaty Lectures Washington, Nicholas Berry, CDI Asia Forum, July 17, 2001 
    The friendship treaty Presidents Jiang Zemin and Vladimir Putin signed in Moscow on July 16 sends a loud message to the Bush administration. It says that either the U.S. moves away from its unilateral policies or China and Russia will cooperate more active in discussing missile defenses and disarmament to enhance the efforts in building a multipolar world.

  • A New Stage of the NMD Debate: A U.S. Proposal and a Russian Response, Nikolai Sokov, CNS Reports, May 2001
    Examines the George W. Bush administration's consideration of broad new proposals to induce Russia's acquiescence to its plan to deploy a national missile defense system.

  • Missile Defense Consultations, Stephen Hadley, Washington File, May 14, 2001 
    Brief statement by the deputy director of the National Security Council Stephen Hadley on the beginning consultation process between Russia and the Bush administration.

  • Pentagon Welcomes Russian Proposal for European Missile Defense Plan, News Briefing with Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, Washington File, February 20, 2001
    In February, Russian Minister Sergeyev handed to Lord Robertson a proposal for a European missile defense system. The Pentagon welcomed this action as an acknowledgement that there is a real missile and WMD threat to Europe. 

  • Russia and the US: National Missile Defenses, START, the ABM Treaty, and Nuclear Modernization, Anthony Cordesman, CSIS background paper, January 21, 2001 (pdf)
    A limited U.S. NMD system poses little threat to Russian capabilities to achieve high levels of assured destruction against the U.S. Both Russia and the U.S. face major uncertainties regarding the interaction between NMD, arms control efforts to limit nuclear forces, nuclear modernization, and the ABM Treaty. 

  • The Missile-Defense Mistake - Undermining Strategic Stability and the ABM Treaty, Igor Ivanov, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2000
    Russia will regard the withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty as an exceptional circumstance that gives Russia the right to withdraw from START I. A similar provision was turned into law by the Russian parliament in ratifying START II and a direct link also exists with the drafting of START III.

  • Joint Statement on U.S.-Russian Cooperation on a Wide Range of Arms Control Measures , Friday, July 21, 2000
    At the 2000 G-8 Summit in Okinawa July 21, the U.S. and Russia discussed global stability and international security issues. They discussed the earliest entry into force of START II, on further reductions in strategic forces within the framework of a future START III and on anti-ballistic missile issues. They also discussed efforts to advance technical exchanges and place into early operation a joint U.S.- Russian center for exchange of data from early warning systems and notification of launches of ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles.

  • Putin's Missile Defense Policy, James Hackett, June 23, 2000
    Former national security official in the Nixon and Reagan administrations James Hackett analyzes the initative by Russian President Putin in proposing a European boost-phase defense as an attempft to kill the U.S. national missile defense and divide the U.S. from its NATO allies. 

  • Russia and Asia-Pacific Security, Gennady Chufrin (ed.), SIPRI, 1999 (pdf)
    Volume is based on papers presented at the February 1999 SIPRI conference "Russia and Asia. Pacific Security". The papers reflect the central security challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific region and Russia's role in this evolving regional security environment.



  • Statement of James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, before the House International Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, February 14, 2002 (pdf)
    In his remarks James Kelly says that President Bush's February 16-22 trip to Japan, South Korea, and China emphasize strategic interests in Asia-Pacific and describes help from region in terrorism fight.

  • Indien und die Debatte über das Raketenabwehrsystem NMD, Christian Wagner, HSFK, Raketenabwehrforschung International, Bulletin No. 24, Summer 2001 (also pdf)
    Positive Indian reactions to the American missile defense plans are in part inspired by the intention of the ruling Indian government to weave closer security ties between India and United States. These would include a closer military cooperation between both countries in the Indian Ocean. But also implicit in a positive Indian position is the risk of deteriorating Indian-Chinese relations.

  • NMD and Northeast Asian Security, Shinichi Ogawa, National Institute for Defense Studies, October 19, 2000
    Chinese and North Korean missile programs are the prime movers of the arms race in the region, and the deployment of TMD in East Asia is a response to these buildups, but should nevertheless proceed in a highly cautious manner.

  • Asian Reactions to U.S. Missile Defense, Michael Green and Toby Dalton, National Bureau of Asian Research Analysis, November 2000 (also pdf)
    Reactions to U.S. missile defense programs differ among Asia-Pacific nations depending on their relationship with the U.S., their specific security situation, and their perceptions of how missile defense will change the balance of power in the region. 

  • Ballistic Missile Defense and Northeast Asian Security: Views from Washington, Beijung and Tokyo, Evan Medeiros, Stanley Foundation and Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, April 2001 (pdf)
    The United States is paying high political costs for pursuing missile defense systems in Northeast Asia. Chinese concerns focus on political questions such as Japanese militarization and Taiwan independence. Although Japan is still interested in missile defense, there are also concerns about the cost factor, effectiveness and impact on Sino-Japanese relations and global arms control.

  • India's Emerging Nuclear Posture: Between Recessed Deterrent and Ready Arsenal, Ashley Tellis, RAND, 2001 (pdf; also available is a Research Brief)
    India is now on the threshold of adopting a nuclear posture that will establish a minimum but credible deterrent. This book, of which the first chapter is provided online, describes how this new strategy will be fashioned, particularly in the light of the threat posed by China and Pakistan.

  • Asian Reaction to U.S. Missile Defense, Michael Green and Toby Dalton National Bureau of Asian Research, November 2000 (also in pdf)
    This essay discusses the background of the misile defense debate and the impact on several important nations in the Asia-Pacific region (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, China, North Korea, Russia, India and ASEAN). 

  • NMD, TMD and India: Let not our imagination run riot, S.Chandrasekharan, South Asia Analysis Group, August 30, 2000
    For India the question is whether China expands its nuclear arsenal and the delivery systems in retaliation against a potential NMD deployment. If China persists in deliberate proliferation and continues to transfer nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan, this will have a serious impact on India’s security. 

  • New Delhi’s Dilemma, Brahma Chellaney, The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000 (pdf)
    Tensions between the United Staates, China and Russia affect India's strategic options. India's interests will be significantly affected by the response of those states which will be directly affected through the deployment of the American missile shield, particularly China. India could potentially seek to derive some benefits from such defenses. The action-reaction cycle triggered by missile defenses could drive India closer to the United States. 

  • How a US National Missile Defense will Affect South Asia,Gaurav Kampani, CNS Reports, May 2000 
    The United States has focused attention on the strategic response from the Russia and China. There is also a potential impact of NMD on South Asia which should not be neglected. Any U.S. decision that affects global nuclear arms control and provokes strong negative reactions from the Russian Federation and China will echo strongly in South Asia. 

China and Taiwan

The Bush administration views China not only as a strategic competitor, but as a country with which the United States would even go to war to protect Taiwan. China in turn sees the American missile defense project as an attempt to achieve absolute dominance in international affairs. Given the choice of Alaska as the site for the first 100 interceptors which makes the system ideally located to defend against ICBMs launched from mainland China, Bejing believes that NMD is not conceived solely with Third World countries, but also with China in mind. China is already in the process of slowly modernizing its nuclear and missile forces, and its likely response to NMD would be to accelerate the modernization of its nuclear and missile programs. 

Reports on Chinese Reactions and Policies on Missile Defense

  • Can China’s Tolerance Last? Bates Gill, Arms Control Today, January/February 2002
    Since early 2001, Beijing has steadily toned down its anti-missile defense rhetoric and gradually come to tolerate—while still opposing—the U.S. missile shield effort. The ability of the United States and China to keep a lid on heated and damaging rhetoric opens the door to a more serious dialogue that, if carefully managed, may help avert undesirable outcomes arising from the changing strategic nuclear dynamic between them.
  • The Impact of U.S. NMD on Chinese Nuclear Modernization, Li Bin, Pugwash Report, April 2001 
    China is using its diplomatic resources to influence the U.S. on the NMD matter. If the the U.S. would ignore Chinese concerns when making its deployment decision, China will certainly seek possible approaches that help maintain the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent. If this diplomatic effort fails, China would also make some responses in the area of arms control in addition to its responses in nuclear development. 

  • What Road Ahead? Scenarios for the Future of United States-China Relations 2001-2010, Nautilus Workshop Report, April 2001 (pdf) 
    This report presents four scenarios for the future of United States-China relations in the domains of security, environment, energy and economy. One main assumption is the dynamic process China will undergo in adapting to globalization.

  • China and the US: National Missile Defenses and Chinese Nuclear Modernization, Anthony Cordesman, CSIS background paper, January 21, 2001 (pdf)
    China has no current strategic interest in being able to attack or threaten the U.S. except in the context of its regional ambitions and security needs. Chinese reactions toward NMD depend on the seriousness of a potential clash over Taiwan and the extent to which a US decision to deploy will inhibit China’s ability to win a regional conflict. China might also take a more subtle path to objecting to the U.S. deployment of an NMD system and retaliate by increasing the flow of expertise, technology, and equipment to hostile states.

  • Facing the China Factor, Banning Garrett, Arms Control Today, October 2000
    Over the last decade, Washington and Beijing often worked closely together in the field of arms control. The United States obviously benefits more from a China that is more inclined to be cooperative, including on non-proliferation. But any decision to deploy a national missile defense could result in reduced Chinese cooperation on a wide range of issues of strategic concern to the United States, especially proliferation. 

  • China's Strategic Force Modernization: Issues and Implications for the United States, Phillip Saunders and Jing-dong Yuan, CNS Occasional Paper, September 2000 (pdf) 
    The driving force behind China's strategic modernization has been to build a credible minimal deterrent. A response to U.S. missile defense would include significant increases of force levels to maintain minimum deterrence, development of multiple warheads and penetration aids to overcome U.S. missile defense. 

  • China's Opposition to US Missile Defense Programs, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 2000 
    Chinese opposition to U.S. missile defense programs is based on both historical and substantive concerns about the United States' superpower status, U.S. alliances, Japan's military potential and U.S. military aid to Taiwan.

  • Beijing’s Bind, Michael McDevitt, The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000(pdf) 
    The centerpiece of China's policy to forestall NMD deployment is preserving the ABM Treaty intact and unmodified. China has very little leverage in pursuing its anti-NMD policy. If the United States should withdraw from the treaty altogether, this would affect the quality and the scope of the strategic modernization that is already underway.

  • Pyongyang’s Pressure, Scott Snyder, The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000 (pdf) 
    North Korea’s pursuit of missile and weapons of mass destruction technology compensates for the inability to keep pace with U.S. and South Korean weapons modernization and is an inexpensive means of maintaining deterrence.Yet these programs have become the catalyst for a U.S. global counterstrategy against the rising threat of ballistic missiles. 

  • Reality Check: Beijing Must Factor into Missile Defense Equation, Greg May, Nixon Center, June 9, 2000 
    It is the reaction of China, not Russia, that will be the decisive factor in whether a missile defense system will improve U.S. security or lead to a new arms race. Washington is paying not enough attention to the potential impact of missile defense on strategic relations with the world’s most populous nation. 

  • Deterrence Theory and Chinese Behavior, Abram Shulsky, RAND, 2000 (pdf)
    Unless Sino-U.S. relations deteriorate to Cold War–like levels, it seems that nuclear deterrence will have little role to play in handling the types of conflict scenarios that might arise between these two powers. The U.S. should focus on nonmilitary means of deterrence,such as diplomatic ways to manipulate the tension to China’s disadvantage.

  • Bait and Switch: Is Anti-North Korean Missile Defense Designed for China?, Charles Ferguson, Journal of the Federation of the American Scientists, November/December 1999 
    Before any compromise agreement can be reached between China and the United States on missile defense, both countries need to improve their security ties. 

  • China's Arms Sales Motivations and Implications, Daniel Byman and Roger Cliff, RAND, 1999 (pdf)
    China's arms transfers not motivated primarily to generate export earnings but by foreign policy considerations. The Chinese government has more control over transfers than it admits, but on the other hand China's adherence to international nonproliferation norms is increasing.

Documents on U.S.-China Relations


The Japanese were greatly disturbed by the 1998 test of the North Korean Taepo-Dong 1 ICBM which clearly demonstrated the direction of the North Korean missiles. Therefore Japan looked to the U.S. for protection from ballistic missile attack, and since 1999, both countries are cooperating in the U.S. Navy's Theater Wide missile defense program. Japan in any case can be threatened with much shorter-range missiles than an ICBM: North Korea is already physically capable of attacking Japan with missiles today. On the other hand, the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi does not rule out the option of opposing American national missile defense plans. Officially, the government has taken a position of complete neutrality on NMD, but raises questions about the influence of American missile defense deployment on global security and arms control. 
  • Japan and Ballistic Missile Defense, Michael Swaine, Rachel Swanger, Takashi Kawakami, RAND, June 25, 2001(pdf)
    Argues that Japan's future stance toward ballistic missile defense could pose significant problems for the U.S.-Japan alliance and offers a comprehensive analysis of the motives and perceptions of Tokyo decisionmakers on this issue.

  • East Asian Regional Security, Satoshi Morimoto, Nautilus Institute, June 22, 2001
    The Japan-US Security relationship remains an indispensable precondition for the security of Japan even in the post-Cold War security environment. Morimoto says the range in which Japan and the US can cooperate for the security of Asia-Pacific is expected to widen.

  • Missile Defense and East Asia, John Rhinelander, Pugwash Report, March 2001
    An action-reaction cycle is about to begin. In the 1960s it was between the US and Soviet Union. That essentially bilateral competition is still not resolved. Now in East Asia a much more complex cycle is poised. China is only the most directly influenced by the US ballistic missile defense initiatives recently made public by the Bush administration. 

  • TMD and US-China-Japan Cooperation, Wang Qun, Nautilus Institute, September 28, 2000
    Japanese-American TMD cooperation no adaequate answer to missile proliferation threats, but impede cooperation between major powers with negative impacts on regional peace, security and stability. 

  • Tokyo’s Temperance, Yoichi Funabashi, The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000 (pdf)
    Japan must accept that current American NMD discussions warrant a domestic Japanese discussion of its implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance management process. The United States could pursue an NMD policy that would be adverse to Japanese interests. 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is the favorite 'rogue state' Washington wants to protect itself against, although the country is worth far less than the cost of the proposed defensive system and the regime is likely to collapse before any shield is completed. South Korea remains concerned, although unofficially, that any U.S. missile defense system could trigger a regional arms race and increase military tensions with the North. The Bush administration announced that it would continue engagement of North Korea, which has as its centerpiece the 1994 'Agreed Framework' (AF). Under the AF, North Korea is to receive two large electricity-producing nuclear reactors and some heavy fuel oil until the reactors are built. In return, North Korea must freeze and eventually dismantle a plutonium-producing reactor and related facilities, while making a complete declaration of how much nuclear weapons material it has. Today, a bipartisan lobby in the U.S. Congress urges President Bush to cancel the Clinton administration's plan to supply nuclear technology to North Korea.

Documents Reports
  • North Korea: On Hold ... Again, Leon Sigal, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2001 
    In late 2000, North Korea agreed to freeze its missile program and exports of missiles and related technology. A well-timed visit to North Korea by President Clinton could have represented the culmination of a 10-year campaign to end enmity between North Korea and the United States. Instead, it could take months for the Bush administration to set policy toward North Korea. 

  • The BMD Issue in Northeast Asia: Strategic Relations and Japan's Options, Hideshi Takesada, Nautilus Institute, May 18, 2001
    North Korean missile exports are likely to continue because they contribute to stabilizing the domestic political system. Efforts made during the Clinton administration to deal with the North Korean missile program were overshadowed since the June 2000 inter-Korean summit meeting. Japan, the United States and South Korea still agree to maintain their policy coordination. South Korea is becoming more and more emphatic on the inter-Korean dialogue, while Washington still sees the American-North Korean talks as the axis of detente on the peninsula. Russia and South Korea are becoming more active in improving relations with North Korea, as they are are using the BMD issue to expand their respective role in the region. Japan should strengthen policy coordination with the U.S. and South Korea and should introduce a more serious missile defense policy. 

  • Implementing the Agreed Framework and Potential Obstacles, Daniel Pinkston, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, October 2000 
    Analyzes some of the issues and obligations under the Agreed Framework, and potential problems that could lead to its demise. The Agreed Framework has haltet North Korea's s nuclear weapons program, but to resolve the missile program and other issues a comprehensive "package deal" is probably necessary.

  • The U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework: Is it Still Viable? Is it Enough? Ralph A. Cossa, CSIS Pacific Forum, April 1999 (pdf)
    This comprehensive study argues that the AF remains a viable instrument for U.S.-North Korean cooperation on nuclear-related issues, but is neither sufficient to fully resolve all of them nor establish a lasting security solution to the Peninsula. The political process surrounding the AF and other related initiatives requires careful management and effective coordination. 


European support is vitally important to American plans to develop an NMD system because the United States wants to forward deploy radars at sites in Greenland and the UK. When President Clinton announced last year not to proceed with deploying NMD, this was not only due to the fact that the technology is unproven, but also because more time is needed to address concerns among European allies. Most European governments share a negative view of the American missile defense plan as it would mean breaching the 1972 ABM Treaty, damage relations with Russia and possibly relaunch an uncontrollable arms race. However, a vast opposition to the missile shield is not building up. Europe is moving instead toward a kind of skepticism that insists on the need for ongoing consultation with the United States, while accepting that the United States will go ahead with its development project.

Since several years, NATO has been engaged in a process of internal deliberations on theater anti-missile defence. The aim of the ongoing work is essentially to study the possibilities for the creation of a joint U.S.-NATO theater missile defence system which is planned to be implemented for 2004 onwards. The warning systems are to be supplied by the United States, while the interception systems are part of the NATO study. To date, the MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defence System) program among the United States, Germany and Italy is the only example of transatlantic cooperation in the field of missile defence. 


Great Britain

Britain has stepped into a position supportive of the United States in line with its desire to be seen as the Americans' closest ally. 


France supports the ABM Treaty as a pillar of global security and non-proliferation and has stated its deep concern about American NMD plans. Nevertheless, it does not seem to be willing to accept the role of the European missile defense dissident. 

  • French Views on Missile Defense, Justin Vaisse, Brookings Institute, April 2001

  • France does not reject the idea of anti-missile defenses. On many detail issues in the missile defense debate French and American views and interests already converge.
  • US Ballistic Missile Defence: A French View, Thérèse Delpech, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 44, March 2000

  • The French missile defense debate has been highly theoretical and abstract, although extremely important considerations were at stake, such as a possible alteration in the balance of offensive/defensive capabilities, unpredictable reactions in the Middle East and East Asia, a new arms race with China, and aggravate tensions with Russia. 


Germany has faulted the American missile plan and urges for intensive discussions and consultation within NATO. Berlin opposes any move to scrap the ABM Treaty and is sceptical about the technical feasibility and financing of missile defense. 


The U.S. Air Force Base in Thule, Greenland, is part of the U.S. of early warning radar network and is also named as a location for one of the future NMD X-Band radars. These radar facilities are to be modernised in violation of Article XI of the ABM Treaty. The Denish government has announced that it wants to consult with the people of Greenland before deciding whether allowing Thule to be used in NMD.

The Netherlands




Middle East


One of the few countries that sounds supportive of U.S. plans is Australia. It itself possesses an early-warning and radar-tracking facility, at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, which Washington would like to draw into its NMD infrastructure.