BRUSSELS — NATO has made little progress on missile defense cooperation with Russia, possibly jeopardizing a planned summit in May, said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“Maybe we won’t clarify the situation until a few weeks before the [Chicago] summit,” Rasmussen said Jan. 26 at his monthly press conference.
A summit with Russia is scheduled to take place just before the NATO summit May 20-21.
“If there is no deal, there will probably be no [NATO-Russia] summit,” Rasmussen added.
Asked what he expected to come out of the NATO summit in terms of smart defense, Rasmussen said he hoped NATO would “adopt a political declaration” containing “a political commitment to a number of specific projects.”
It was “premature” to talk about them today, he said, adding that missile defense was “an excellent example of smart defense” with a number of allies providing input, such as hosting radar facilities.
He cited air policing as another example.
“At some stage, we’ll have to decide on a long-term arrangement for air policing in the Baltic countries,” he said. He cited it as a good example “because a number of allies do it on behalf of the Baltic countries so that the Baltic countries can focus on deployable armed forces for international operations.”
In summary, he described smart defense as “a combination of a number of concrete multinational projects and a long-term political vision of how to do business in the future.”
Looking ahead to the Chicago summit, he said, “We must renew our commitment to the vital trans-Atlantic bond” as it is “the best security investment we ever made.”
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are an area that NATO is looking into in terms of its smart defense project. According to a NATO official, it is “no coincidence” that NATO officials have been invited to the U.S.’s Schriever space and cyber defense war games in the last week of April, before the Chicago summit.
As to the growing concerns over the Strait of Hormuz, Rasmussen said individual allies are involved in the Iran question but that “NATO as an organization is not.” He urged Iran’s leadership “to live up to its international commitments, including stopping its [uranium] enrichment program and ensuring free navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”
Referring to his 2011 annual report, Rasmussen said NATO had weakened the insurgency, strengthened Afghan forces and brought enemy attacks down by 9 percent; had conducted a “highly effective operation protecting the civilian population” in Libya; and captured 24 pirate ships off Somalia (half the figure for 2010).
Asked about Libya, he said, “NATO is not present in Libya and has no intention to return.”