Fact Sheet
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
January 20, 2009

The proposed placement of U.S. missile defense (MD) assets in Europe would not only contribute to the security of the U.S. and NATO allies, but would also provide a defense against long-range ballistic missiles to most of Europe. The U.S. Government has informed both NATO and Russia of our plans, as well as offered opportunities for cooperation.

Cooperation with NATO

  • The U.S. plans to design U.S. MD assets in Europe so that they could be complementary to any future NATO ballistic missile defense system.
  • The proposed U.S. system in Europe is designed to counter long-range threats and would be able to protect all NATO countries facing a long-range missile threat from the Middle East.
  • Some southern European countries do not face long-range threats from Iran given their proximity to the Middle East. For these countries to be protected, they require short- and medium-range missile defense systems.
  • NATO has focused its missile defense development efforts on countering shorter range threats. The United States and NATO efforts are complementary and could work together to form a more effective defense for Europe.
  • The U.S. will retain command and control of our missile defense system assets in Europe and will be able to link to NATO systems to ensure interoperability with their shorter range systems.

Cooperation with Russia

  • The U.S. is willing to explore cooperation with Russia across the full spectrum of missile defense activities. U.S. Government officials have discussed U.S. missile defense plans and offered to cooperate jointly since 2001. These discussions have been transparent and conducted at all levels, including between the two Presidents, as well as at the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).
  • On March 29, 2007, USNATO released a public statement reiterating our previous offers of cooperation, as well as seeking enhanced cooperation with both Russia and NATO on missile defense.
  • U.S. missile defense plans are neither directed at nor a threat to Russia. Due to the location and capabilities of the European missile defense assets, the proposed system would have no capability against Russian ICBMs.