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Russia criticizes U.S. missile shield plans in Europe

RIA Novosti

26/01/2007 13:26

MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said Friday that U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic were "a move in the wrong direction" that could threaten global security.

Washington officially proposed placing a radar network in the Czech Republic six days ago, and announced plans last Monday to start formal talks with Poland on the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems on its territory.

"The deployment of a U.S. anti-missile base in Europe is nothing but an attempt to reconfigure the United States' military presence in the region," the ministry's spokesperson Mikhail Kamynin said.

The U.S. has repeatedly argued that defenses in Europe could intercept possible intercontinental ballistic missiles from "rogue" regimes, such as Iran and North Korea.

Moscow has always strongly opposed the deployment of an anti-missile shield in its former backyard in Central Europe, describing the plans as a threat to Russian national security.

"Despite numerous assurances that this [missile defense] base will not be used against Russia, we cannot fail to see this move as part of U.S. plans to set up a strategic component to its military contingent in the region," Kamynin said.

He also said Russia will have to consider the presence of a U.S. missile defense base near its borders when determining its international policy and developing its military strategy.

At the same time, the Russian diplomat again defended the sale of 29 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran, reiterating that the delivery under a 2005 contract did not violate any of Russia's international obligations.

"Military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iran is governed by international law and bilateral agreements," he said.

The Tor-M1, developed by the Russian company Almaz-Antei, is a high-precision missile system designed to destroy aircraft, manned or unmanned, and cruise missiles flying at an altitude of up to 10 kilometers (6 miles). Each system is equipped with 8 short-range missiles, associating radars, fire control systems and a battery command post.

The United States last year called for a halt to international arms exports to Iran, and for an end to nuclear cooperation with the country to pressure it to stop uranium enrichment. Israel has also criticized arms deals with Iran.

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