Debating regional missile defence

A StanA Standard Missile - 3 (SM-3) is launched from the USS Hopper (DDG 70) (Photo: US Missile Defense Agency)dard Missile - 3 (SM-3) is launched from the USS Hopper (DDG 70) (Photo: US MIssile Defense Agency)

A Standard Missile – 3 (SM-3) is launched from the USS Hopper (DDG 70) (Photo: US Missile Defense Agency)

By James Hackett, Editor of the Military Balance

Much press attention at this year’s Manama Dialogue will focus inevitably on the conflict in Syria and other consequences of the Arab Spring. But a set of other core issues also remain, including the threat perceptions of regional states, and Iran’s place in these calculations. Regional states, and international partners such as the US, remain concerned by Iran’s continuing drive to improve its ballistic missile capabilities, amidst  international preoccupation with Tehran’s nuclear programme. Given these uncertainties,  the development of regional military capabilities will likely figure high in delegates’ conversations Read the rest of this entry »

Iron Dome: a double-edged shield?

Iron Dome in action in Ashdod: Photo: IDF on Flickr

By Brigadier Ben Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare

‘Missile defence saves lives,’ the Financial Times declared this week, ‘in Israel (and Gaza too).’ Of the many observations being made about the recent exchange of rockets and missiles between Hamas and Israel, and Israel’s decision to step back from the brink of a full-scale invasion of Gaza this week, a recurrent theme has been the success of Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket-defence system.

The eight-day conflict was the system’s first operational test, and some have even suggested that by limiting Israeli deaths to five civilians and one soldier it may have helped to avert a ground invasion. Four batteries of system, part-funded by the US, had been fielded outside Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) during the past two years. A fifth battery that was being used for test purposes was quickly pressed into service to protect Tel Aviv, while Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence to halt Hamas’s rocket attacks from Gaza.

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The final frontier: non-proliferation in space

Computer generated image of objects in low Earth orbit (Image: NASA Orbital Debris Program Office)Guest post by James Acton, Senior Associate, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Coming just a couple of weeks after the Obama administration announced its intention to work with the European Union on developing a space code of conduct, the special session of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference on space and missile proliferation was highly topical.

To ensure freedom of access to space – not least in the face of the increasing problem of space debris – the need for enhanced space governance is widely recognised. However, there is a debate about whether the EU’s draft of a non-binding code of conduct or a formal treaty-based approach would be preferable. Sergio Marchisio, chair of the European Centre for Space Law, discussed legal aspects of the draft code and argued that the EU should be willing to discuss the Russian and Chinese proposal for a treaty in spite of its significant definitional problems. Götz Neuneck, Deputy Director of the University of Hamburg’s Institute for Peace Research and Security, welcomed the draft code as an important step forward but argued that it lacked key arms-control characteristics. He urged the EU to engage emerging space powers, to include ballistic missile defence in discussions about space security, and to study joint monitoring and surveillance. An EU official, however, cautioned against overloading the draft code.

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