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NATO chief warns of split over US `son of star wars'

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 12, IRNA
US-Star Wars-Nato chief
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned Monday that the transatlantic military alliance risks being split between countries covered by the controversial US `son of star wars' program and other member states left exposed.

"When it comes to missile defence, there shouldn't be an A-league and a B-league within NATO," the former Dutch foreign minister stated.

"For me it is indivisibility of security that is the guiding principle," de Hoop Scheffer said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Several countries, including Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic, have been competing to base part of the controversial missile program on their territories, while others have expressed reservations because it antagonizes Russia.

According to the Financial Times, many western European leaders have also been skeptical of the cost-effectiveness of the system, which is primarily designed to protect the US but will also cover part of Europe.

The NATO chief suggested that the US `son of star wars' program could be complemented by existing NATO plans to put a battlefield missile defence system into operation by 2010.

"We are already moving forward with developing systems to protect deployed forces, rather than population centers and territories," he said. "There could be at a later stage a relationship between the two systems."

A 10,000-page study by NATO last year concluded that it would be feasible to establish a Europe-wide missile defence system based on the US plan but that it could cost USD 10 billion a year even though it has an uneven test record.


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