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"No other country, including Russia, can have a veto over our security and that of our allies."

Hear hear. We also have to look at the issue of our energy security and the extent to which Russia controls the gas supplies.

Maybe we should restore the Mandelson Ban on gas-fired power stations ?

If Liam Fox has got the party to sign up to the principle of missile defence he may not be as marginalised as Melissa Kite would have us believe!

Perhaps Fox could be Shadow Education Secretary? That could rebuild the party's connections with the grassroots.

I think that the misguided Dr Fox should instead emphasise the need for our reliance, whether in defence or on any other matter, upon the strength and commonality of purpose from which the UK clearly benefits by becoming ever more subsumed into a United States of Europe. Who needs the USA anyway?

No, only joking!

Good good.

"We are fully supportive of the principle of a Missile Defence system in Europe. The threat of nuclear proliferation, such as we now see in Iran, is underlying the need to look very seriously at such a system. This decision should be taken on its merits."

What merits? Even if a way of shooting down ICBMs is eventually developed and we build a missle defence sysem that can shoot down a thousand missiles at once (ho ho), Russia/Iran/China/Pakistan only have to build 1001 missiles and it becomes useless again. Or fire them over the Arctic where there are no missile defences.

And anyway the real threat of nuclear proliferation is nuclear bombs being smuggled into cities and exploded on the ground by terrorists, not ICBMs.

The whole scheme is an inverted pyramid of piffle. Liam Fox can support it all he wants as long as the British taxpayer never contributes a single penny to this white elephant.

It is vital that this country increases its defence spending quite dramatically over the next 5/10 years.
Currently at 2.5% it must surely be at least doubled in the short term ( 5 years ) and then re-assessed.
It is quite clear that Europe is not prepared to defend itself and frankly we cannot rely on or expect USA to continue to defend us if we are not prepared to contribute

I’m not surprised that Russia is uppity about this -- imagine if they set about rendering our missiles useless, upsetting that mutually assured balance.

The ever-macho Fox (compensating for something?) says that no country can have a veto over our security. Meanwhile our foreign policy is based on being the biggest bully’s biggest crony (BTW happily giving them power to take us to war, not just a veto).

If we want Britain to be Great, we have to be good to our word. It is the NPT, not another country, that should be governing our decision. We are about to turn the NPT into next year’s bog paper and restart an arms race, all to the tune of Iran.

Jon Gale, your point is entirely valid as regards the inability of missile defences to defend against large numbers of missiles. However, that misses the point - these defences are not designed to stop Russian missiles. The US is only proposing to deploy 10 interceptors in Europe, whilst Russia has thousands of nuclear-armed missiles.

The shield is designed to stop small states like Iran or North Korea from launching a few missiles. Building large numbers of nuclear weapons is extremely expensive and time-consuming, and can only be contemplated by the largest, richest states, who aren't the threat at the moment.

As for the abilities of the system, recent testing has been very positive, with 7/8 intercepts successful, and limited operational capability reached in Alaska, to defend against North Korea.

I do think Mark Fulford is ignoring what is currently happening in China, Russia and India - they are all massively re-arming.
Liam Fox is right and it is about time that responsible newspapers draw attention to our massive defence deficit

I’m not surprised that Russia is uppity about this -- imagine if they set about rendering our missiles useless, upsetting that mutually assured balance.

Moscow has had a missile defence system since the 1960s, with the latest version, the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system, has been operational since 1995.

I've no idea whether it works though.

Robert Simpson,

I take your point, but why would Iran/N.Korea launch <10 missiles - they would know that 10 missiles are not going to destroy the USA (let alone NATO), but in exchange Iran/N.Korea would be vaporized.

Even if they are suicidal (a big if) its not a good deal!

I've no idea whether it works though.

The Americans seem pretty confident that it doesn't. Russia's "Pillbox" radar allowed a single point of failure / suppression, so it was never very effective anyway.

This is a very reasonable post that you have put up here, and Liam Fox has also made a very reasoned response to quite a tricky diplomatic situation. Of course we'd all be better off without any further proliferation of nuclear warheads and delivery systems, however some states see them as the ultimate defence (along with mutually agreed destruction), so it would be wise to look after ourselves in the west.

However, I often wonder what Putin's real agenda is? He has to step down shortly to satisfy the Russian constitution, so is he marketing a prodigy for domestic consumption? Is he really flexing Russia's muscles? Or is he actually a demon hell bent on dominating Europe through fear and the gas tap? (See my post on Gazprom)

Perhaps Putin's latest gaffe will remind the public at large that when the chips are down, and despite all the endless talk, the hypocritical undemocratic authoritarian wasteful and economically destructive EU is a
complete pussy. And for all the USA bashers out there I would remind you that tomorrow is the anniversary of D Day.

I don't think you'll find too many people in Russia who don't expect Putin to be in power in 2009. After all, consitutions are supposed to be adaptable to circumstances, aren't they :) ? And who better to guide Russia through such a sticky patch and now under attack again form the nasty West??

I have serious reservations about missile defense. Iran and North Korea are not threats at the moment, and even if they were then the whole point of nuclear weapons is deterrence and Mutually Assured Destruction. Missile defense is not a defensive system - anything that upsets the nuclear balance is offensive. And, even stranger, Vladimir Putin has a point when he sees this as a threat to Russia. It's an attempt to holster Europe into American strategic policy in the long term - and that can't be a good thing for us. Imagine being stuck in the middle between American strategic interests and our demand for fuel from Russia? This policy is just pure folly and an inexplicable one at that. It seems that most 'conservatives' have it in their mind that the key to strategic defense policy is simply to get the biggest and strongest new toys and then flick two fingers to the rest of the world.

Re "Imagine being stuck in the middle between American strategic interests and our demand for fuel from Russia?". Of course we should not in the first place be in a position where Russia can put its foot on our throat. If we are deluded enough to think the Russians are better allies than the USA, we deserve all we get.

"We are fully supportive of the principle of a Missile Defence system in Europe.

That's nice but it is Poland and the Czech Republic that need to site the interceptors and Germany's SPD is saying it is not their sovereign decision but an EU decision........thus the very sovereignty of the ground beneath your feet becomes EU domain

As for Mark Fulford ant the NPT he must be smoking dope - India and Pakistan are not signatories.

I am not sure whether compliance is higher among states that do not sign or ones that do and violate it

I'll say one thing for the Cold war, at least you knew where you stood with the Russkies.

Sack him now. The biggest obstacle to Tory victory.

I think a missile defence system is designed to minimise threats from rogue states which is in the interests of all major nations including Russia. We can't disinvent the nuclear bomb (unfortunately) and not being prepared to keep up with technology would be irresponsible of our Govt.


There is no way that National Missile Defence could handle a major attack using nuclear missiles by any of the 5 nuclear powers; Stopping a dozen missiles launched by a less militarily advanced power is within the scope of some kind anti-aircraft\anti-missile system. The thing is that only a small number hit their targets in tests and those are missiles belonging to the US of a known specification and in situations in which it is known that they are coming; in use any kind of anti-aircraft\anti-missile system has to be prepared for whatever threats may turn up at an unknown time and this adds an element of uncertainty. The main defence remains that any country attacking a NATO power especially with WMD's knows that it will be bombed to oblivion using whatever combination of nuclear and conventional weaponry is neccessary to render it totally impotent militarily leaving it a heap of ash, corpses and wrecked buildings.

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