U.S.: Missile shield fears 'unfounded'

Sept. 8, 2011 at 6:28 AM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Russia's fears that a NATO anti-missile defense shield would target its intercontinental missile forces are "unfounded," a senior U.S. diplomat said this week.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose repeated Washington's position Monday at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, that the alliance's four-phased anti-missile defense system for Europe isn't aimed at Russia, but at proliferating missile threats emanating from Iran and the Middle East.

"Political misunderstandings about the capabilities of the proposed NATO system -- specifically that the system would target Russian ICBMs, thereby undermining Russia's strategic deterrent -- are unfounded," Rose said at the 2011 Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference.

Rose, leader of the State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said the United States and NATO are committed to calming Moscow's suspicions about its missile shield plans.

"We will continue … efforts to explain that our missile defenses are being deployed against regional threats from the Middle East, and are neither designed, nor do they have the capability, to threaten the large numbers and sophisticated capability of Russia's strategic forces," he said.

Russia objects to the plans, saying it needs to share control of any such system with NATO to ensure the efficacy of its own nuclear deterrent.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year suggested that Moscow be provided details on the specifics of the missile interceptors and the radar systems to be used in any pan-European system.

He also said Russia should be made aware of the locations of BMD-capable ships.

Rose, however, said Washington remains opposed to that.

"We have also been clear that the United States cannot accept limitations or restrictions on the development or deployment of U.S. missile defenses," he said.

The U.S. ballistic missile defense capability "is critical to our national security policy and countering a growing threat to our deployed forces, allies, and partners; and therefore, no nation or group of nations will have veto power over U.S. missile defense efforts," Rose said.

The anti-missile defense system is to be rolled out in four phases, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, and its implementation has already seen "tremendous progress," the U.S. diplomat said.

Phase 1 began in March with the deployment of a BMD-capable Aegis-class ship, the USS Monterey, to the Mediterranean. Also part of the first phase will be the installation of an advanced radar station in Turkey this year.

The second phase will be a land-based interceptor site in Romania, which the U.S. expects to be operational by 2015. The third phase will be another interceptor site in Poland by 2018.

The final phase, Rose said, will include "the development of a more advanced interceptor for deployment in the 2020 timeframe."

Despite Moscow's opposition to NATO's missile defenses, the U.S. official said he remains hopeful the alliance and Russia will be able to enhance each other's security through the NATO-Russia Council.

Through the council, two sides this year agreed to work together on such issues as theater missile defense, terrorism and piracy but remained at odds over a pan-European anti-missile shield.

The gulf that remains between Moscow and the West over the issue was highlighted last month when Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, criticized the alliance for refusing to guarantee BDM-carrying ships wouldn't be stationed in northern European waters.

"The very fact of deploying U.S. military missile infrastructure in the northern seas is a real provocation with regard to the process of nuclear disarmament," Rogozin told reporters in Norway.

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