German FM Guido Westerwelle's observation – that the Iran nuclear agreement and the NATO/US missile defense plans in Europe are linked – could become what a headline in a newspaper shown in "Top Secret" movie called "Eine Big Dealen."
"What we have been able to achieve so far on the Iranian nuclear program gives us hope in other contexts, too — also on the difficult issue of missile defense," he told reporters in Brussels. "Because one thing is obvious, that there is a connection here.""The more progress we can achieve on the Iranian nuclear program, the greater the effects are regarding the missile defense program" and the chance of overcoming "difficulties" with Russia on it, Westerwelle said.
This should be music to Lavrov's ears since the Russian FM has been arguing that all along. If French and other EU great powers follow suit, then U.S. may have to scale down The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) even more – even though it is a US plan and it could easily do without deploying assets in or off northern Germany, but it is still to be complimented by NATO's Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense and NATO members do have a say.
So far, Kerry and other US government officials are now downplaying the connection between its missile defense plan in Europe and Iran's nuclear issue, but back in 2009 the Obama administration explicitly linked the two issues. Back then senior US officials, including Burns – who ended up leading secret talks with Iranians that made the nuclear deal possible – repeatedly offered to slow down BMD deployment in Europe if Russia manages to help US slow down or reverse Iranian nuclear program.
- The United States will review "the pace of development" of its missile defense shield in Europe if Russia agrees to help stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, a senior U.S. official said. (Reuters, February 13, 2009).
- William Burns, a senior U.S. diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, indicated possible compromises on missile defense, telling Russian officials the Obama administration was willing to slow plans for a shield in eastern Europe if Russia agreed to help stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons."The obvious rationale has been concern over an Iranian threat and the extent that we can reduce that threat certainly shapes our view," said the State Department official. (Reuters, February 27, 2009).
- President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said. (New York Times, March 2, 2009).
- And I am sure the same linkage has been made after the September 2009 announcement of EPAA too. Even if one reads Kerry’s recent denial EPAA will be changed, it still implies it could change if the threat changes: "There is no agreement with Iran Nothing has changed and the plans for missile defense are absolutely on target…Nothing has changed at this point and I don't foresee it changing." (WSJ, Nov. 5, 2013).