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Partnership between U.S., Russia on data center for missile defense systems possible

By Max Burkhalter
March 24, 2011
Controversy over a pending upgrade to America's missile defense systems - specifically, the installation of detection and interception stations in Europe - has put a damper on U.S.-Russian relations for some time, but a plan to share information between the strategic arms of both countries could go some way toward improving those ties.

Russian leaders have long been suspicious of the U.S. improvements to missile defense, fearing that the new systems are intended to hinder the country's offensive capabilities. However, Bloomberg reports that America has repeatedly insisted that the upgrades are only meant to nullify the threat posed by Iran, which possesses medium-range missile capabilities.

The latest plan is to include Russia as a full partner in a joint missile shield program, of which the data center is only a part. Should the move succeed, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security Ellen Tauscher told Global Security Newswire that Russia and the U.S. could then discuss further reductions in their respective nuclear stockpiles.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is currently visiting Russia in part to help support American initiatives for the joint missile defense system. He told Bloomberg that the relationship between the two countries, despite recent setbacks, is generally friendly.

"If you'd told me when I joined the CIA in 1967 that I would end my career helping to forge a stronger defense relationship with the Russians, I'd have been a bit more than skeptical," he said.

According to the news agency, part of President Barack Obama's foreign policy has been to improve the country's relationship with Russia, which grew markedly more distant after the invasion of Georgia - ostensibly in defense of separatists in South Ossetia - in August of 2008.

While the missile defense data center is an important project for international relations, it is a drop in the bucket in terms of data center construction, which is expected to skyrocket over the course of 2011 thanks to an increasing demand for cloud services and others that require extensive infrastructure for delivery.


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