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NATO Allies Agree Missile Defense Necessary

April 20, 2007 -- NATO allies have agreed that Europe should defend itself against potential missile threats, and named Iran as one source of such threats.

At an alliance meeting in Brussels on April 19, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said member countries agreed that a planned U.S. antimissile shield in Europe should not leave some countries unguarded. They also said it should eventually be integrated with a similar NATO-designed system intended to protect those countries not covered by the U.S. system.

Appathurai also said delegates agreed that the proposed antimissile shield does not pose any threat to Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said at a news conference that "10 interceptor [missiles] will not, cannot and will not, effect the strategic balance, and 10 interceptors can also not pose a threat to Russia."

However, a Russian delegation that met with NATO officials reiterated Russia's opposition to the plan.

Envoy Konstantin Totsky said Russia objects to the decision being made unilaterally, and said Russia is prepared for "constructive dialogue."

"We cannot easily accept that now, in Europe, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, there is a deployment of a first strategic element," Totsky said. "And we are against the fact that such decisions are made unilaterally."

(compiled from agency reports)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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