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Missile dispute 'Threatens Nato'
4 May 2000
By Michael Evans, Defence Editor, The Times.
Disagreements between the United States and its European allies on several key issues, particularly Washington's proposal to build a national missile defence system, are threatening the future of Nato, a report said yesterday.
Past strains in the alliance had been "manageable" because of the willingness of all members to operate "on the basis of mutual trust", the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its annual Strategic Survey.
The US proposal for a limited missile defence system to protect against potential attacks from rogue states such as North Korea, however, was neither understood nor welcomed by European nations, the institute said. Europe was also "irritated" by the reluctance of the United States to give a clear signal of approval for its plans to develop the European Security and Defence Identity, which would lead to a European rapid reaction force of about 60,000 troops.
"Many European members of Nato also expressed anger at what they saw as US arrogance and unilateralism with regard to war with Yugoslavia over Kosovo," the report said.
The institute added: "The danger for the coming years is that the bridge of communication seems to have broken down and, unless some way is found to reconstruct it, the loss of trust could have a profound impact on the alliance's cohesion."
The biggest illustration that the United States and Europe were "marching to different drummers" was the argument over the American project to construct a national missile defence (NMD) system which would mean modifying the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
"The US has had little success in convincing its European critics that its plans for NMD deployment are needed, sensible or useful . . . [and] many Europeans do not believe the system will ever work as intended," the report said.
The report added: "There are few in Europe who believe the so-called rogue states are led by men so irrational they would threaten the US with weapons of mass destruction carried on ballistic missiles, even if they were able to do so."
From Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
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