January 20, 2018
America planned to bring Russia in from the cold with Star Wars project
Britain’s national security risked being undermined by America who considered making Russia partners in the “Star Wars” missile defence shield because Boris Yeltsin was transforming the former Soviet Union into “permanent good guys”, newly released classified documents reveal.
John Major’s government was warned in the early 1990’s that President Bush’s administration was so impressed with the way the Russian leader was dismantling communism that they could share strategic military technology and defence systems with them.
A file of secret Cabinet documents released last month at the National Archives in Kew, warned that such cooperation raised “profound questions for global security” and could threaten the effectiveness of Britain’s nuclear Trident submarines to act as deterrent.
The dossier also reveals how Britain foresaw the possibility that Russia could still pose a threat to the West in the future.
America planned to bring Russia in from the cold with Star Wars project

Briefing documents presented to Downing Street and the Foreign Office explained how the controversial Star Wars project, conceived by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 as a space-based shield to protect against a nuclear strike, was being overhauled to defend against conventional missiles and weapons of mass destruction launched from “rogue nations”, including Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya. The file reveals that President Bush senior was prepared to discuss sharing that technology with Boris Yeltsin after they met at Camp David in February 1992 and declared a formal end to the Cold War.
Sir Stephen Wall, the then Private Secretary to John Major, wrote to the Foreign Office explaining how Washington thought Yeltsin had a “whole new attitude and willingness to cooperate which the Americans wanted to exploit for the obvious benefits of a better relationship… as well as to help Yeltsin find useful employment for his nuclear scientists.”
He explains how the Americans would “show willingness to discuss the exchange of technology,” including exploring the possibility of a global defence system “involving a mixture of land based and space based systems”.
However, Sir Stephen warned that America “assumed Russia would permanently be a good guy,” adding: “We could not make that assumption.”
America planned to bring Russia in from the cold with Star Wars project

A briefing note by diplomats and advisors reveals that President Bush wrote to allies about a possible Nato-led system of protection against limited missile strikes, but with Russia as the “principal partner”.
It added that such a move would have “a profound effect on Nato … and would raise difficult questions of who was ‘in’ and who ‘out’ - the old East-West divide could be replaced by a North-South division.”
It continued: “Any significant increase in Russian ability to detect and intercept our Trident missiles would make it more difficult and more costly to meet our deterrent criteria.”
The file includes an ‘Top Secret’ US brochure about the Star Wars project that explains how space and ground based tracking systems and radars would monitor a missiles throughout its flight before launching a series of interceptors to destroy the warhead. Research had also focused on using a particle beam, lasers and even a chemical laser to knock out incoming missiles.

America planned to bring Russia in from the cold with Star Wars project

A ‘discussion document’ about the idea of sharing an early warning system to detect a missile launch said: “The idea of a East-West cooperation over a Global Protection Against Limited Strikes in addition raises far reaching questions about the future structure of international security. The closer the cooperation, the harder it will be to justify the concept of deterrence to Western public opinion.”
Later Cabinet papers show how America “moderated their ambitions about what is immediately achievable” to share with Russia and that US diplomats would “broach the issue cautiously with Yeltsin”. British diplomats noted that Washington had “taken to heart” the inherent problems of the East and West sharing defence systems.
America eventually abandoned the Star Wars project in 1993 because it was too ambitious, too costly and deemed out of date following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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