The United States' European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile Defense System

Publication Date: 
February 2015
RAND Research Report
Collaborative Education and Cooperative Security
Nuclear Past, Present and Future Project
The Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
U.S.-Russian Security Relations
Document Type: 
Books and Monographs

The United States developed the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense system to defend against a variety of current and future Iranian missile threats. Russia has expressed dissatisfaction with the system, protesting that it presented a significant threat to Russia's nuclear deterrent. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the EPAA does not pose a threat to Russia's missile forces, arguing that the system is designed for ballistic missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area and can neither negate nor undermine Russia's strategic deterrent capabilities. Nevertheless, in 2013, the Obama administration canceled Phase 4 of the system. This report demonstrates that the restructured EPAA system is able to defend against a range of current and future Iranian missile threats and does not pose a threat to Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles. Canceling Phase 4 of the EPAA system has opened a window for the United States and Russia to come together on additional bilateral nuclear arms reduction measures and missile defense cooperation.