Russia balks at NATO's revised plans for missile defense shield
NATO's revised plans for a missile defense shield to protect against Iran are likely to top today's NATO-Russia meeting.
As Europe and the US grow increasingly concerned about the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons, Russia is taking a firm stance against one of the West's key plans for defending itself: a European missile defense shield. The issue is likely to be at the top of the agenda for a meeting of the NATO-Russian Council in Brussels today.Skip to next paragraph
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Officials from the NATO military alliance say the system is necessary to protect against threats like Iran and say they have sought Russian cooperation and participation. But Russian officials contend that such a shield could threaten its strategic nuclear forces and risk triggering a new arms race. Moscow is now threatening to withdraw from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and deploy ballistic missiles along the border of Europe as a countermeasure.
“NATO's position is clear. We need missile defense for our own security," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, seeking to dispel Russia's fears. "We believe our defenses would be more effective if we cooperate.”
President Obama had previously scrapped plans for a similar shield in September 2009 due to strong Russian objections, Reuters reports, and the revised version NATO is now floating appears to be no more palatable for Moscow.
As frustration mounts among NATO officials, Russians have countered that the West does not understand their position. Alexei Arbatov from the Center for International Security told the Voice of Russia that his nation wants its interests taken into consideration and written guarantees that Europe will reconsider the missile defense system if the Iran nuclear threat diminishes.