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NATO has yet to discuss U.S. missile shield in Europe - official

RIA Novosti

07/03/2007 19:13 BRUSSELS, March 7 (RIA Novosti) - NATO has not yet discussed U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The United States recently announced plans to build a radar installation in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland in the next five years. The U.S. insists that the European missile shield is designed to counter possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran and North Korea.

James Appathurai said that NATO would consider the political implications of the move in the near future.

He also said that the United States has shown "full transparency" in announcing the future deployment of its missile shield in Europe, and informed members of the Russia-NATO Council about its plans in advance.

Moscow has strongly objected to the proposed deployment of the shield in Central Europe and Central Asia, and has long been concerned about the further eastward expansion of NATO.

In harsh comments during his address to the Munich conference February 10, the Russian president accused the U.S. of ignoring international law and of imposing its own rules on other countries.

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Yury Baluyevsky, said in an interview with the daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta last month that unilateral U.S. action could damage the balance of power in Europe and undermine Russia's nuclear deterrence potential.

However, the NATO official reiterated Wednesday that the U.S. initiative was not aimed against Russia, and that bilateral missile defense projects were common practice among NATO members.

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