Congressman Demands Explanation of Obama’s Missile Defense Comments to Medvedev
12:21 PM, Mar 26, 2012 • By ROBERT ZARATE
Congressman Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio, sent a letter to President Obama demanding an “urgent explanation of [his] comments to [Russian] President Medvedev in Seoul this morning,” only hours after a hot microphone caught Obama privately telling Medvedev this morning that he’ll have “more flexibility” after the November 2012 elections to deal with Russian objections to U.S.-NATO missile defense.
Although the United States and NATO have repeatedly assured the Kremlin that their missile defense systems are aimed at defending against Iran and other threats emanating from the Middle East, the Russian government continues to claim that the missile shield is aimed against its nuclear-armed missile forces.
Turner writes: “Congress has made exquisitely clear to your Administration and to other nations that it will block all attempts to weaken U.S. missile defenses. As the Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which authorizes U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policy, I want to make perfectly clear that my colleagues and I will not allow any attempts to trade missile defense of the United States to Russia or any other country.”
Congressional testimony and news reports suggest that the Obama administration, in the hopes of mollifying the Kremlin’s concerns, is now willing to offer to share with the Russians classified U.S. information about the performance of U.S.-NATO missile defenses as part of future bilateral negotiations. However, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) contains a measure that limits the executive branch’s ability to share classified U.S. information about missile defenses with the Russians.
But when President Obama signed that the NDAA legislation into law on December 31, 2011, he created a controversy by issuing a signing statement suggesting that he treats that measure as “non-binding.”
Read Turner’s letter to President Obama here.