BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany sees an opportunity to return to a shared transatlantic approach in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program after a new US administration under President-elect Joe Biden took office, a German official said on Monday.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump quit a deal with Tehran that sought to limit Iran’s nuclear program to prevent it from developing atomic weapons in exchange for easing economic sanctions.
While the United States is restoring sanctions and announcing a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, other signatories – Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – are backing the agreement with Tehran.
“With the US administration taking office next year, we will have the opportunity to return to using the JCPOA (nuclear deal with Iran) for what it was intended – to limit Iran’s nuclear program,” said a German diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Seeing how Iran is increasingly violating its nuclear obligations, this is urgently needed,” he added after a meeting of German, French and British foreign ministers in Berlin to discuss Iran.
The diplomat said the three European countries, known as E3, were preparing for an intensive period of diplomacy, knowing they would face tough negotiations.
A spokesman for the foreign office in Paris said after the meeting France remained determined to ensure Iran could never acquire nuclear weapons and would continue efforts to defend the nuclear deal which played a vital role in this.
Biden, who will take office on January 20, has said he will rejoin the agreement if Iran first continues strict adherence and will work with allies “to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pressing back on Iran’s other destabilizing activities”.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin and John Irish in Paris; Edited by Michael Nienaber, Giles Elgood and Grant McCool
United States this week successfully demonstrated the ability to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles with the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor. This major development presents an important opportunity to improve layered missile defense for America and its allies.
According to the Missile Defense Agency, the “threat representative” ICBM was launched from the test site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands towards targets near Hawaii. Simulating a “Hawaiian defense” scenario, the Navy destroyer John Finn, was equipped with Aegis ballistic missile defense system, managed to destroy the missile using the SM-3 IIA interceptor.
Congress, recognizing the increasing missile threat from North Korea, used the 2018 fiscal year National Defense Authorization Act to require the MDA to conduct tests by the end of 2020 to see if the US can use the SM-3 IIA interceptor to counter ICBMs. .
As it turned out, Congress already knew.
Meanwhile, North Korea pause flight tests From long-range ballistic missiles, Pyongyang continues to develop land and sea missiles. North Korea recently paraded The newest and biggest ICBM to date. While the regime has not tested the missile yet, nicknamed Hwasong-16 by analysts, Pyongyang owns, or is developing, at least four platforms – KN-08, KN-14, Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 – qualify as ICBMs.
With the newly launched Hwasong-16, North Korea’s arsenal now offers five missiles ICBM class ranges. Pyongyang could potentially use some of the missiles to target the United States.
A similar threat is growing in Iran, which has collaborated with North Korea on missiles identified and punished by the US government.
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This April, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Forces – the entity with operational control over the country’s ballistic missile arsenal – tested its first military satellite on a space launch vehicle featuring a solid-fuel second-stage motor.
Iran currently has no ICBM and is subject to a self-defined range limit 2,000 kilometers on the missile. But as Iranian officials are proud, the ban could be ended unilaterally. Tehran already hosts the Middle East’s largest arsenal of short and medium-range ballistic missiles. According to the 2019 Missile Defense Review, “Iran’s desire to have a strategic strike on the United States could propel it to the ICBM field, and advances in the space program could shorten the path to ICBM.”
The SM-3 IIA interceptor was originally designed to counter medium or medium range missiles. But successful tests this week show that the MDA can use interceptors to bolster America’s layered missile defenses against the rogue country’s ICBMs.
The first layer of America’s existing homeland defense includes the Ground-based Middle Road Defense system, which features 44 Ground-Based Interceptors in California and Alaska designed to destroy ICBMs in their midway phase. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system uses a powerful radar to track ballistic missiles and destroy them before reaching friendly targets.
IIA SM-3 interceptors stationed on destroyers or on the ground using the Aegis Ashore system could now provide another opportunity for the United States to destroy incoming ICBMs, as this Department of Defense graphic illustrates:
(US Department of Defense)
Adding additional missile protection for Americans makes sense, but some worried that the deployment of this additional missile defense capability against the ICBM could be destabilizing relations with Russia and China.
But such an argument is dubious. The US homeland missile defense system is designed to counter relatively modest attacks from North Korea and possibly Iran. Even with the welcome upgrade potential associated with the SM-3 IIA interceptor, the US missile defense system will remain inadequate against a major missile strike from Russia or China.
The scale and sophistication of such an attack by any one country would easily overwhelm the US missile defense system. That’s especially true of remembering hypersonic and cruise missile capabilities that both countries have or are developing.
In contrast, the United States relies on its nuclear triad to deter such attacks from Russia or China.
Russia and China know that America’s existing missile defenses and any possible enhancements in the coming years using the SM-3 IIA cannot defeat a major missile strike. But that fact is unlikely to prevent both major power competitors from issuing cynical and exaggerated protests – even as they rush to expand their own missile defenses.
It is worth noting that Russia has more domestic missile defense interceptors than the United States.
Congress should be commended for its prescience at NDAA 2018 regarding SM-3 IIA’s potential capabilities to ICBM. After this week’s successful tests, Congress must now act to ensure the missile defense program is adequately funded.
This opportunity to better protect Americans is not to be missed.
Bradly Bowman is the senior director of the Center for Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, of which Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow.
France and Germany have welcomed the creation of two new crossing points on the line of contact. This increases the number of intersection points along approx. 450km length of the seventh contact line. As such, Ukraine complies with the obligations agreed upon by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in the conclusion of the Normandy-format summit held in Paris on 9 December 2019. Therefore, Ukraine has taken steps to improve remote conditions at the crossing points before winter arrives. in and to alleviate the suffering of the people in eastern Ukraine. We welcome the support of the European Union in providing infrastructure at the new crossing points at Zolote and Shchastya.
We pay tribute to the involvement of Ambassador Heidi Grau, Special Representative of the Chair of the OSCE in the Trilateral Contact Group, and Ambassador Toni Frisch, Coordinator of the Humanitarian Working Group, in pushing for this Opening.
We call on Russia and the separatists to reopen all existing crossing points on the line of contact in the Donetsk region without delay. Thousands of people seeking to see doctors, withdraw pensions or visit relatives are currently barred from crossing the line of contact. Conflict must not be allowed to continue at the expense of the population, and divisions must not be allowed to widen.
Despite an agreement in the Trilateral Contact Group, the separatists have not fulfilled their obligation to allow the opening of the crossing points at Zolote and Shchastya on November 10 as agreed. We call on Russia to use its influence to ensure that this agreement is implemented. As a member of the Trilateral Contact Group, Russia is also in direct negotiations with Ukraine and bears responsibility for the successful implementation of the conclusions of the Paris Summit.
France and Germany remain committed to fully implementing the agreement reached at the 9 December 2019 Summit.