Sergei Ivanov: U.S. ABM System Threatens Russia — We Should Cooperate On Planetary Defense
March 6, 2013 • 10:49AM

Sergei Ivanov, former Russian Defense Minister and now the head of the Russian presidential administration, told Komsomolskaya Pravda Tuesday that (in the newspaper's words), "Moscow is not ready for a new round of nuclear arms reduction and sees no chances of reaching a compromise with Washington on U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe," but at the same time called for "the entire world community" to "jointly build a space threat protection system, since individual countries are unable to achieve that on their own."

Ivanov said that the U.S. ABM system in Europe "does not appear to respond to potential threats coming from North Korea and Iran. This affects Russia's strategic nuclear forces and undermines the balance of forces. In this case Moscow can't afford a new round of nuclear arms reduction as the U.S. currently outnumbers Russia in nuclear weapons."

Ivanov said that Russia sees "no light at the end of tunnel" in missile defense discussion with the US." Pravda added that "Mr. Ivanov implied that Washington's position is not sincere and cannot be taken seriously."

On the need for international cooperation on planetary defense (the Strategic Defense of Earth proposal), Ivanov said: "No country, not even the United States, can solve this alone. It is hideously expensive, and very difficult. And it could only be done, as you say, 'with kolkhoz [collective farm] methods.' [Meaning, done collectively.] I agree. And even then, I'm not sure there is a solution for it today, technologically. If we're talking about large asteroids that telescopes and warning systems can pick up, then the asteroid would have to be at least 30 meters [in diameter]. But its speed would be enormous. And even if such an approaching asteroid could be intersected, there are no systems and technologies yet that could affect it. And as for the 'small' ones — the one that fell in Chelyabinsk was really small, and it was actually impossible to detect it. But if we start to do something cooperatively, it is a project that will take decades. And it will probably cost billions of dollars.

"A spacecraft in orbit would have to look not only at the ground, but also around itself, to be able to send out a warning. Maybe super-computers will be able do it, to calculate the orbit of the asteroid at such breakneck speed, and, as it approaches the Earth, to figure out where it is heading. And how to destroy it. Or at least to move it off a trajectory that is dangerous for us."