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Deployment of U.S. missile defense could trigger new arms race

RIA Novosti

10/02/2007 15:19 MUNICH, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe could trigger a new spiral of the arms race, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

Putin told an international security conference in Munich that the reasons the U.S. cited in favor of deploying a missile defense system in Europe are not convincing enough, as launching North Korean ballistic missiles against the U.S. across western Europe would be in conflict with the laws of ballistics.

"This clearly contradicts ballistics laws. Or, as we say in Russia, it's the like trying to reach your left ear with your right hand," he said.

Putin also said the U.S. ignores the basic principles of international law and is striving to impose its own rules on other countries.

"We are seeing increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law," Vladimir Putin told the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy.

Washington has recently moved its largest sea-based missile defense radar in the Pacific from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands, not far from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. It has also announced plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and a missile interception system in Poland, which it says it needs to protect itself against a potential threat from Iran.

Putin reiterated that Russia's response to U.S. plans will be asymmetric.

At an annual news conference at the beginning of February, Putin called Washington's justification of the missile shield unconvincing, and pledged to amend Russia's military strategy.

"All our responses will be asymmetric, but highly effective," the president said then.

The Russian leader also said that despite all differences with the U.S., he believes U.S. President George Bush to be his friend.

"He is an honest person. I know that he is open to dialogue - and he is open to persuasion," Putin said.

He said Russia and the U.S. will never be enemies. Commenting on Bush's words that Russia and the U.S. will never be adversaries or enemies, the Russian president said: "I agree with him."

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