That these destroyers, and NATO’s missile shield in general, is being deployed to counter a threat from Iran is not believed outside of narrow America-centric propagandistic circles, however.
In truth, the term “missile defense” is a misnomer, as it is a universally acknowledged tenet of nuclear warfare doctrine that advanced missile defense systems are integral to “escalation dominance,” or the ability to engage in warfare at any level of violence, including nuclear warfare. And the threat that NATO envisions does not come from Iran, a nation that has never been shown to be pursuing nuclear weapons, let alone actually possessing them, but Russia, still the world’s second nuclear superpower.
This was made explicit in the last round of Russia-NATO missile shield consultations, started in Lisbon in 2010 and now officially suspended by the Pentagon in the wake of recent developments in Ukraine. The consultations, launched on the premise that the two sides could work together on countering any supposed threat from outside Europe, had been deadlocked for years after Washington stonewalled Moscow’s demands for a legal guarantee that their strike forces would not target Russia’s deterrence capabilities.
Meanwhile, Russia, for its part, is also ramping up the nuclear posturing. According to a new study by the Federation of American Scientists, Moscow deployed 25 new strategic nuclear launchers in the past six months, bringing its total of deployed launchers to 498 with 1512 associated nuclear warheads. And just last Thursday, the Russian military held a massive three-day nuclear exercise involving 10,000 soldiers in its Strategic Missile Forces.