The United States and NATO say a missile shield would protect Western nations from missile attacks from potential nuclear powers such as North Korea and Iran. Russia says the shield could weaken its own nuclear capabilities and proposes collaborating on a joint system.
Frank Rose, U.S. deputy assistance secretary for arms control, told participants at a missile defense symposium in the United Arab Emirates that missile defense was a cornerstone of diplomacy as well as deterrence.
A ballistic missile defense review published in 2010 states that the United States seeks to "eliminate an adversary's confidence in the effectiveness of missile attacks," he said. This would in turn devalue the acquisition, use or development of ballistic missiles.
Rose said that any updates to missile defense should include the Russians, a collaboration he said was a top concern for U.S. President Barack Obama.
Rose added, however, that Washington can't accept limitations on U.S. defense capabilities but could provide assurances that missile defense isn't directed at Russia.
"Our cooperation with Russia will not come at the expense of our plans to defend against regional ballistic missile threats or for the defense of the U.S. homeland," he said.