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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Germany concerned over Russian missiles near Polish border

RIA Novosti

05/11/2008 20:45 BERLIN, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - Germany expressed concern on Wednesday over the possible deployment of Iskander missile systems near Poland and will discuss the issue with Russia as soon as possible, a German diplomat said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday in his first state of the nation address to parliament that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missile systems in its exclave of Kaliningrad "to neutralize if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe."

"I believe today's announcement [by the Russian president] is the wrong signal sent at the wrong time," Jens Ploetner, an official spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said, adding that Germany is in favor of constructive dialogue between Russia and NATO on the U.S. missile shield issue.

Russia's Iskander-M tactical system is equipped with high-precision SS-26 Stone "quasiballistic" missiles reportedly capable of carrying multiple conventional and nuclear warheads.

According to Russian military analysts, the deployment of Iskander missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad region would allow Russia to target the entire territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

The United States claims the new bases are needed to counter missile attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

The U.S. signed deals on the missile shield with Warsaw and Prague during the summer. Polish and Czech lawmakers have yet to ratify the agreements.

Russian officials earlier said Moscow could deploy its Iskander tactical missile systems and strategic bombers in Belarus, and warned that Russia could target its missiles at Poland.

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