Russia denies working on missile defense deal with U.S.
MOSCOW, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Neither the Russian Defense Ministry nor the General Staff is drafting a new missile defense pact with the United States, a senior military official said on Thursday.
Some Russian media outlets reported that the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry were working on a Russian-U.S. missile defense agreement.
Lt. Gen. Alexander Burutin, first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said a missile defense document was "not on our agenda" because not even the outline of a new deal has been defined.
"Missile defense is a subject for discussion with the Americans. We will watch their comments and we will cooperate with them on regional missile defense," he said after a meeting of the State Duma Defense Committee.
The committee advised earlier in the day the lower house of the Russian parliament to ratify the new strategic arms reduction deal with the U.S.
It was not immediately clear whether Burutin was referring to a new treaty to replace the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty on the limitation of ABM systems. Signed in 1972, it was in force for the next thirty years until the United States unilaterally withdrew from it in June 2002.
Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute for North American Studies, earlier said Russia and the United States had failed to reach a separate missile defense deal.
"It will not be possible to sign such a document and that task was not part of the new strategic arms reduction treaty," he said.
The treaty was signed on April 8 in Prague, replacing the START 1 treaty that expired in December 2009. The document was submitted to the U.S. Senate on May 13 and to the State Duma on May 28. The Russian and U.S. presidents have agreed that the ratification processes should be simultaneous.
The new pact stipulates that the number of nuclear warheads is to be reduced to 1,550 on each side, while the number of deployed and non-deployed delivery vehicles must not exceed 800 on either side.
Moscow has been concerned by U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Central Europe. Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday there are no threats for Europe that would justify the deployment of a missile defense system near Russian borders.
On July 3 in Krakow, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski witnessed the signing of a protocol amending a Bush-era deal between the United States and Poland on the deployment of elements of a missile shield in Poland.
Poland will now host a temporary U.S. military base neat the Polish town of Morag, just 80 km (50 miles) from the Russian border. U.S. troops will be deployed to train Polish forces at the site until 2012, when the base is expected to become permanent.
Moscow has said it "does not understand the logic" behind the decision to open the base and has expressed concern over its proximity to Russia.
The United States is also in talks with Bulgaria and Romania on deploying elements of a missile shield on their territories from 2015.
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