From the event


16 May 2007

Explaining missile defence

Video interview with NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Peter Flory

Q: We are here today with Peter Flory, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment.  Welcome. 

PETER FLORY (NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment): Thank you.

Q: What has been NATO's involvement in developing responses to the growing missile defence threats?

FLORY: NATO has been thinking about missile defence since the early 1990s as one element in a balanced policy of responding to the growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation which includes non proliferation, arms control and diplomacy as well as defence and deterrents. 

I should point out that missile defence can also play a role, I think, in supporting non proliferation, in other means by reducing the threat, by reducing incentive for nations to proliferate. As a first step, NATO focussed on developing defences for deployed NATO forces.  And at the Istanbul Summit, shortly after the Istanbul Summit in 2004, the Alliance launched a program known as the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Program better known as ALTBMD which is a defence against missiles with ranges of up 3,000 kilometres designed to be taken with NATO deployed forces to protect them outside of the NATO area. 

An initial contract on this system was signed in Riga, at the Riga Summit at the end of last year.  The system is on track to be deployed and to provide a capability in 2010-2015 timeframe.  And what it will consist of ? The ALTBMD itself is a commanding control background... backbone that will be NATO system that will link together sensors ie. primarily radars and also intercept the missiles that would be fielded by nations and made available to NATO.

Q: The Riga Summit task continued to work on missile defence. What's the state of the play?

FLORY: There is a lot of work ongoing coming out of the Riga Summit. And I should mention this is not only a technical work which is the work I oversee in the Defence Investment Division itself, so political and military work that is undertaken or organised by the executive working group under the Division of Defence Policy and Planning. 

The main task that group is leading involved political military task and analysis of things like commanding control, debris and other issues. The main work that needs to be done on a technical side is to response to the US-Polish-Czech discussions of a possible US third site that would be deployed in Europe.

Q: So what's the impact of the US third site on the current NATO work on missile defence?

FLORY:  Well, that's what we need to find out. The feasibility study did not generally take into account the already existing US defensive systems. And certainly it couldn't take it into account because it hadn't been announced yet the new initiative to possibly deploy a third site.

As you could imagine that proposal which would provide substantial protection of Europe by American systems and American systems operating out of Poland and the Czech Republic would substantially change the equation for NATO's missile defence work. 

We don't know the exact numbers. But it's safe to say that by taking on much of the task of defending Alliance area this would allow the Alliance potentially develop its own defences to help defend remaining areas. But this would be frankly a less ambitious and certainly a less expensive endeavour than having to cover the whole of Europe.

Q: How was Russia being engaged on missile defence?

FLORY: We worked with Russia on missile defence for several years since 2002.  On a technical work, this work that has taken place under the aegis of the NATO-Russia Council, the NRC, has focussed on developing interoperability and tactical missile defence, the idea being that if NATO forces and Russian forces found themselves deployed next to each other in a crisis response operation and encountered missile threat we'd want our forces to have protection. We'd also have our protection to work together with the Russian protection in an interoperable way so that we have shared warning information, shared information, picture and things like that. 

Now, at the political level, because missile defence has become somewhat controversial lately at the political level, the Alliance has met in the NATO-Russia Council on several occasions, most recently at the Oslo ministerial and before here in Brussels on April 19th.  It has extensive discussions, extensive briefings.  I know the United States has worked to be very transparent with Russia on the nature of its plans. 

NATO is working to be transparent with the work it's considering doing and I think this is the right place to have this discussion, as it has been the main forum for discussion with Russia on missile defence, but we understand that Russia has concerns. We don't think Russia needs to be concerned. We think, Russia, actually, is threatened by some of the same threats and that Russia can benefit. The US has put a proposal on the table with Russia which I've heard described by neutral parties as a very generous proposals. So the US is proposing to work with Russia on missile defence.  So I'm quite confident that we will be able to work together in a way that addresses Russia's concerns.

Q:As the newly appointed Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment what will your main priorities for 2007 and in general?

FLORY:Well, missile defence is certainly a big part of my priority. In fact, the initial announcements of the US-Czech-Polish negotiations were made the weekend I arrived in Brussels.  And it basically, it's been on my desk ever since. The rest of my time is spent on trying to develop NATO capabilities of a variety of kinds, capabilities for strategic airlift, capabilities for ground surveillance, the so-called Alliance Ground Surveillance System or AGS, working on the Defence Against Terrorism Program, a work which is a program that looks at quickly and affordably developing programs that can be deployed to the field to help our troops dealing with the threats they're facing everyday. 

The basic bottom-line is developing capabilities, moving into the system quickly.  That is not something that is always easy and getting them deployed to NATO forces in the field as quickly as possible.

Q: Thank you