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No legally binding guarantees in US missile defense to Russia

October 18, 2011, 22:18 UTC+3

“Only through cooperation, by working side-by-side and using their own eyes and ears, will Russians gain assurance on our capabilities and intentions", - Tauscher said

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WASHINGTON DC, October 18 (Itar-Tass) —— The U.S. President Barack Obama’s Administration is ready to assure Moscow in writing that U.S. missile defense will not be targeted against it but there will be no legally binding guarantees, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher said at the Atlantic Council Missile Defense Conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.

She held the latest round of missile defense negotiations in Moscow last week.

“Our NATO European missile defense system is not and will not be directed at Russia, and Russia would continue to be able to confirm that the system is directed against launches originating outside Europe and not from Russia,” she said.

“We cannot provide legally binding commitments, nor can we agree to limitations on missile defenses, which must necessarily keep pace with the evolution of the threat. But through cooperation we can demonstrate the inherent characteristics of the system and its inability to undermine Russian deterrent forces or strategic stability.

“Only through cooperation, by working side-by-side and using their own eyes and ears, will Russians gain assurance on our capabilities and intentions. The missile defense system we are establishing in Europe is not directed against Russia. We have said that publicly and privately, at many levels. We are prepared to put it in writing,” Tauscher said.

“At the same time, we must continue our efforts to develop missile defense cooperation with Russia. I was in Russia last week meeting with my Russian counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov.

“This is an historic opportunity for the United States, NATO, and Russia. We are continuing work to establish a political framework that would open the way for practical cooperation on missile defense, including a center that would coordinate radar data and another center that would coordinate operations.

“As full partners in missile defense, we would partner to counter threats originating outside Europe, not each other,” she remarked.

Analysts monitoring the U.S.-Russia missile defense negotiations told Itar-Tass that Washington would like to post a joint memorandum or a statement but Moscow did not accept the offer.

There is no progress at the Russia-U.S. missile defense negotiations, and the United States continues the rapid implementation of its plans, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in the end of September.

The opinion that a NATO missile defense network is being created in Europe is erroneous, he said. “In fact, the Americans are fulfilling their own plans in Europe. Alas, these works are far ahead of the [missile defense] dialog of Russia, the United States and NATO,” he said.

Russia is ready for compromises but they must be reasonable, the deputy minister observed. “There is a certain red line, the questions of defense, and any compromises are impossible there,” he said. The Russian Defense Ministry has computed “the entire range of military and technical measures to deter threats close to the Russian borders,” he said.

Russia keeps explaining its proposals, including the sectorial defense, to the partners, among them Romania and Turkey, but to no avail, Antonov said.

“I would not say that the reset policy has come into a deadlock. I think our American and NATO partners realize that stubbornness will lead to nothing. We need solutions, we need a search. We clearly declare our problems and say why the implementation of the American plans causes our concerns, and we offer solutions. They smile at us and carry on their plans,” he said.

Earlier Russian military strategy expert Alexei Arbatov has called ‘a political mistake’ the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe in disregard of the opinion of Moscow.

“Such actions cannot be taken without coordination with Russia,” he said.

“The U.S. course is absolutely destructive,” said Arbatov, who heads the International Security Center of the World Economy and International Affairs Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “In fact, the Americans suggest that no matter what Russia may say they will implement their plan [of the missile defense network deployment], which has been coordinated with NATO,” he said.

The course of U.S. President Barack Obama is practically similar with the position of the George W. Bush administration, he said. “This applies not only to missile defense but also to other aspects of the relations with Russia,” the expert noted.

The U.S. agreements with Bucharest (the deployment of an interceptor missile base by 2015) and Ankara (the deployment of a NATO missile warning radar station) “have no strategic role, because U.S. missiles based in Romania will never be able to intercept Russian intercontinental missiles, especially those based on submarines,” Arbatov said.

The expert said that the Russian aerospace defense program for the period until 2020 was a reply to the U.S. global missile defense initiative.

He does not think that the U.S. “may be interested in the new arms race, which is a suicidal act of self-exhaustion, but it wants to get on Russia’s nerves.”


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