In 2010, I completed my university education and my second degree – a Political Science Honours. To do this, I had to write a 20,000 word thesis. My thesis was an analysis of the role missile defence played in the deterioration of Russian-American relations (2001-2010). Below, find the summary/abstract part and a link to view the entire version in .pdf format.
Once strong, post-Cold War Russian-American relations began to sour when the Bush administration initiated moves to establish a National Missile Defence plan comprising of ballistic missile defence bases located in Eastern Europe. Expectedly, Russia opposed the proposal. Moscow refuted the Bush administration’s proposal and called it unnecessary, proclaiming the plan was an antagonistic move with the ulterior motive of eroding Russia’s nuclear deterrent and second-strike capability. Washington’s claim the plan was to ward off the perceived threat of a nuclear weapons capable Iran and North Korea was largely dismissed by Moscow. In addition to the missile defence issue, Russian-American relations were further exacerbated the gradual eastward expansion of NATO into the former Soviet bloc. Relations continued to decline through the recent decade and reached a nadir during the 2008 South Ossetia War when the Bush administration entered into an agreement to formally begin the process of establishing ballistic missile interceptors situated on missile defence bases in Poland.
Russia dismissed the perceived Iranian threat, completed construction of the Bushehr nuclear facility and continues to sell medium-scale arms to Iran. Moscow’s intimate knowledge of the Iranian and North Korean weapons programs means it played a critical role in these two states acquiring the types of ballistic missiles which gave the Bush administration’s perceived necessity for a National Missile Defence plan credibility. However, Russia certainly does not want Iran or North Korea achieving a nuclear weapons capability, thus accounting for the preventive measures undertaken to ensure the Bushehr facility cannot enrich uranium to weapons-grade. Therefore, it is imperative for the US to compatibly engage Russia on this issue and initiate efforts to explore joint missile defence options. Such an option is feasible, and the US and Russia have formed security agreements in the past to suggest this proposal is achievable.
The ascension of the Obama administration has seen an improvement in Russian-American relations by heavily modifying the original Bush administration proposal and removing the most provocative aspects of it creates an opportunity to involve Moscow in a greater joint security effort in combating the weapons aspirations of Iran and North Korea. As a result of this analysis, this thesis argues compatible joint missile defence between the US and Russia is not only feasible, but ultimately necessary if the spread of nuclear weapons and other WMDs is to be dramatically curbed. Iran and North Korea may still develop operating ICBMs and one day nuclear weapons, but US and Russian leaders must find common ground to work jointly on missile defence agreements for the stability of international security.
Download full version here.