Washington, DC -  Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Mike Turner (R-OH), both subcommittee members, recently returned from a Congressional Delegation to Brussels, Warsaw, and Prague where they discussed missile defense activities and the Administration’s proposal to deploy missile defense assets in Europe.

The delegation released the following statement:

    “We strongly support working, on a bipartisan basis, with our NATO allies to defend against the mutual threats we face.  Over the coming months, we look forward to working with the Administration and our NATO allies to develop a system that is defensive, indivisible, and deters future threats.

    “During our trip, we met with many key officials and came away more certain than ever that the security of our alliance must be indivisible.  The goal of missile defense systems deployed to Europe must include providing protection for NATO allies, and NATO must play a key role in future decision making.  Furthermore, any future U.S. system must be able to work together with the missile defense system that NATO is currently developing.

    “We must also have a high degree of confidence that any future missile defense system deployed in Europe works effectively.  In our view, this requires more robust testing of the ground-based, midcourse-defense system.

    “The Iranian short-and medium-range missile threat to NATO is here and now, and a longer-range threat missile could emerge in the future.  NATO must accelerate its efforts to protect Europe against this threat.  Furthermore, it must make clear to Russia that these systems, and any future longer-range system deployed in Europe are defensive and not aimed at a perceived threat from Russia.  We also believe Russia’s recent statements on the proposed European deployment have been unhelpful.  Russia does not have a veto over U.S. or allied security.  However, engagement with Russia on possible missile defense cooperation is important, and we encourage the Administration to continue these discussions. 

    “To date, the European parliaments and publics have not been effectively engaged in this debate.  More robust efforts are required in this area.  Poland and the Czech Republic are strong allies of the United States, and we support efforts to further deepen our relationship with those nations.”

During the visit, Members met with a number of senior U.S. and allied officials including: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer; General John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander-Europe; Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga; and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.