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U.S. missile shield in Europe not aimed at Russia - Gates

RIA Novosti

23/04/2007 15:19 MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Deploying elements of the U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe will not be aimed at Russia, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Monday.

In January, the U.S. announced plans to deploy a radar facility in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear programs have provoked serious international concerns.

Following talks with Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Gates told journalists that the shield was intended to prevent potential aggressors in the Middle East and Asia from using their ballistic missiles to blackmail Europe or the U.S. and cause chaos.

He said rapid technological progress and the development of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems suggested that current threats could grow even more sinister in 10 to 15 years.

Moscow, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have appeared in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, has blasted the plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe as a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

Gates said he was aware of Russia's concerns and confirmed U.S. readiness to cooperate with Moscow on the whole range of issues related to the missile defense system.

Serdyukov called the U.S. plans for missile defense deployment a serious destabilizing factor for security.

"We believe that the strategic missile defense system is a serious destabilizing factor capable of having a considerable impact on regional and global security," Serdyukov said following his meeting with Gates.

And Gates said his country was inviting Russia to join its defense measures as a partner. He added that Russia and the U.S. would only win from such a partnership, while an inability to cooperate would be disadvantageous for both countries.

Gate proposed that joint scientific research and experiments be conducted, missile early warning information be exchanged and joint air defense operations be held, for instance as part of peacekeeping operations.

The U.S. administration disclosed Wednesday the technical parameters of a missile defense system to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.

It said a total of 10 interceptor missiles in underground silos would be located at the facility in Poland. The interceptor base will require facilities for electronic equipment for secure communications, missile assembly, storage, maintenance, and security.

The counterparts also discussed the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), and Serdyukov said the document was becoming increasingly ineffective. He said the parties also considered prospects for a new agreement on strategic arms reduction.

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