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Russian NATO envoy skeptical about new U.S missile shield plans

RIA Novosti

02:38 18/09/2009 MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's NATO envoy has cautioned against "childish euphoria" over recent Washington's decision to scrap plans for a missile shield in Central Europe.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that Washington was dropping its previous plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland because the Iran threat is perceived in a different way.

"We are already hearing voices in the West...that it is a huge concession to Russia. But I wouldn't want us to become overwhelmed with some kind of childish euphoria," Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with the Vesti television late on Thursday.

The diplomat said Washington had simply corrected its own mistake and had chosen a more flexible and efficient approach to its global missile shield allegedly aimed against the ballistic missile threat from Iran.

The Bush administration sought to deploy an omni-directional radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland as defense against potential strikes from Iran. Russia has consistently opposed the plans as a threat to its security and the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

Under the new four-phase missile shield plan until 2020, the U.S. will initially deploy warships equipped with Aegis Weapons System and SM-3 interceptor missiles in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.

Rogozin said Russia should not be overly optimistic about this move because the ships with missile defense systems could be quickly redeployed anywhere in the world, including near the Russian coast.

The diplomat's statements are in contrast with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev remarks regarding Obama's announcement.

"We value the responsible approach of the U.S. president to our agreement [on revision of missile defense plans]. I am ready to continue our dialogue," Medvedev earlier said.


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