Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war. No, it's not at all about Iran and Israel. It's about the decision of Washington and the Pentagon to push Moscow up against the wall with what is euphemistically called Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).
On November 23, a normally low-keyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the world in clear terms that Russia was prepared to deploy its missiles on the border to the EU between Poland and Lithuania, and possibly in the south near Georgia and NATO member Turkey to counter the advanced construction process of the US ballistic missile defense shield: "The Russian Federation will deploy in the west and the south of the country modern weapons systems that could be used to destroy the European component of the US missile defense," he announced on Russian television. "One of these steps could be the deployment of the Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad."1 Those would be theatre ballistic missile systems. The latest version of Iskander, the Iskander-K, whose details remain top secret, reportedly has a range up to 2000 km and carries cruise missiles and a target accuracy to 7 meters or less.
Medvedev declared he has ordered the Russian defense ministry to "immediately" put radar systems in Kaliningrad that warn of incoming missile attacks on a state of combat readiness. He called for extending the targeting range of Russia's strategic nuclear missile forces and re-equipping Russia's nuclear arsenal with new warheads capable of piercing the US/NATO defense shield due to become operational in six years, by 2018. Medvedev also threatened to pull Russia out of the New START missile reduction treaty if the United States moves as announced.
Medvedev then correctly pointed to the inevitable link between “defensive” missiles and “offensive” missiles: “Given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New Start treaty could also arise,” he said.2
The Russian President didn’t mince words: “I have ordered the armed forces to develop measures to ensure, if necessary, that we can destroy the command and control systems” of the US shield, Medvedev said. “These measures are appropriate, effective and low-cost.” Russia has repeatedly warned that the US BMD global shield is designed to destabilize the nuclear balance and risks provoking a new arms race. The Russian President said that rather than take the Russian concerns seriously, Washington has instead been “accelerating” its BMD development.3
It was not the first time Medvedev threatened to take countermeasures to the increasing Pentagon military encirclement pressure on Russia. Back in November 2008 as the US BMD threat was first made known to the world, Medvedev made a televised address to the Russian people in which he declared, “I would add something about what we have had to face in recent years: what is it? It is the construction of a global missile defense system, the installation of military bases around Russia, the unbridled expansion of NATO and other similar ‘presents’ for Russia we therefore have every reason to believe that they are simply testing our strength.” 4 That threat was dropped some months later when the Obama Administration offered the now-clearly deceptive olive branch of reversing the BMD decision to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia is threatening to deploy its Iskander anti-BMD missiles in Kaliningrad
This time around Washington lost no time signaling it was in the developing game of thermonuclear chicken to stay. No more pretty words about “reset” in US-Russia relations. A spokesman for the Obama National Security Council declared, “we will not in any way limit or change our deployment plans for Europe." The US Administration continues to insist on the implausible argument that the missile defense installations are aimed at a threat from a possible Iranian nuclear launch, something hardly credible. The real risk of Iranian nuclear missile attack on Europe given the reality of the global US as well as Israeli BMD installations and the reality of Iran's nuclear delivery capabilities, is by best impartial accounts, near zero.