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MOSCOW, December 27, /ITAR-TASS/. Progress in settling the Iranian nuclear issue should prod the United States into reevaluating its missile defence concept in Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Russia pressed for guarantees that the global missile defence system being deployed by the U.S. will not be directed against our country and for the elimination of other ‘irritants’ in bilateral relations, including persistent attempts to apply American legislation to Russian citizens, public and private companies and lending institutions exterritorialy,” the ministry said.
“Russia believes that the progress in settling the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme should help reevaluate the American concept of missile defence in Europe since the reason that was used to justify its creation no longer exists,” the ministry said.
It noted that Russia was trying to build relations with the U.S. “on the basis of equality, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and mutual respect for each other’s interests.”
Moscow reiterated its “readiness to develop a partner dialogue to the extent to which Washington is prepared to develop it.”
“Russia called for boosting trade and investment ties as much as possible and for introducing visa-free travel rules for citizens, which would have facilitated the development of the entire range of Russian-American relations,” the ministry said.
“Full implementation of the agreements reached in Geneva -- and they have yet to be implemented, even though everyone agreed that one year would be enough to implement them -- will eliminate the reason that is used to substantiate the creation of the European segment of the U.S. global missile defence system. We did not think this up. President Obama said it straightforwardly that if the Iranian nuclear threat were eliminated, the European missile defence system would no longer be needed. American experts are saying something different now though,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week.
Russian Army General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov stressed earlier that Russia was ready “to continue the discussion and, among other things, work out in the Russia-NATO Council a joint review of framework conditions for possible cooperation on missile defence in Europe.”
He recalled the international conference on missile defence in Moscow in 2012, where Russia spoke of its concerns “very openly.” Russia stressed at the conference that if NATO’s missile defence system became partly capable of intercepting Russian ballistic missiles by 2018, Russia would have to deploy up-to-date attack systems in the south and west of the country in order to suppress missile defence facilities if they are used against Russia.
One of Moscow’s demands to NATO is that its missile defence facilities should be moved away from the Russian borders in order to avoid a situation where NATO will be able to intercept missiles over the whole of western part of Russia. It has so far not received any clear answer to that.
“We have no intention to limit NATO in building an anti-missile shield against missile threats from the Middle East, but we have a right to expect that the protection of NATO countries will not be ensured to the detriment of Russia’s security,” Gerasimov said.
“It’s hard to build trusting relations if our deterrence capabilities are held at gunpoint by NATO’s missile defence system. So we agreed today to continue the dialogue in order to look for a way out of this situation together,” he said.
“We do not question NATO’s right to build anti-missile defence for itself, but we cannot agree with the fact that this will be done by reducing Russia’s deterrence capabilities,” Gerasimov said.
Russia is ready to discuss cooperation with NATO in the field of missile defence in Europe, he said.
“Our concerns remain. We hope that the alliance will take steps that will help resolve them,” Gerasimov said.
Moscow will press consistently for legal guarantees that the U.S. missile defence system in Europe is not aimed against it.
The United States started developing its missile defence system in 2002 in bid to protect the U.S. and allied territories from Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles.
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the programme to be revised. The new architecture, which became widely known as a non-strategic adaptive approach missile defence strategy, uses both stationary and mobile missile systems of small and medium range, mainly sea-based.
The creation of this system was originally planned to be implemented in four phases. The first of them has already been implemented - 30 silo-based missile interceptors have been deployed in the United States; the onshore and offshore systems (Patriots) have been deployed in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain; an early warning system radar is deployed in Turkey; there are ships equipped with the Aegis systems and Standard-3 interceptor missiles in the Mediterranean.
At the second and third phases, the Standard-3 missiles will be upgraded. The fourth phase is to be completed by 2020. It was planned that by that time the modernised Standard-3 missiles would be replaced with more advanced ones. However, in March 2013, the U.S. administration abandoned these plans, but still planned to deploy 14 interceptor missiles in Alaska and a second radar station in Japan.
In addition, Washington plans to deploy interceptor missiles in Romania by 2015 and in Poland by 2018.
At an annual press conference last week, President Vladimir Putin noted that American tactical weapons being deployed in Europe were “not controlled by any of the European states.” Also, a new segment of the American missile defence system is appearing on the fringes of Europe.
“We have said many times that missile defence endangers our nuclear capability. So, we must respond to it somehow,” Putin said.
As a response, Russia said it might deploy Iskander missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region. This raised concerns among neighbouring and other European countries.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said his country hoped that Moscow would keep its word and will refrain from stationing Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region if American anti-missile defence elements are not deployed near its border.
However, the Russian Defence Ministry said that the deployment of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region did not run counter to international agreements.
“Missile troops and artillery units of the Western Military District are in fact armed with Iskander operational and tactical missile systems,” Defence Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said.
He stressed that “concrete areas where Iskander squadrons are stationed in the Western Military District do not run counter to international agreements.”
Putin said no decision to deploy Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region had been made yet.
He said that Iskander missiles were not the only means of Russia’s defence and response to emerging threats but only a part of its possible reaction and not the most effective one.
The president noted, however, that in its segment the missile was the world’s most effective weapon.
The Iskander is a tactical ballistic missile system manufactured by the Federal State Unitary Enterprise, Design Bureau of Machine Building, for the Russian ground forces. Iskander missiles were first test fired in 1996. The Russian army acquired the Iskander-M extended-range ballistic missile system in 2006.
The Iskander mobile missile system can engage ground targets such as command posts and communications nodes, troops in concentration areas, air and missile defence facilities and fixed and rotary-wing aircraft at airfields.
The Iskander was developed in the 1990s.