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US Says Russian Worries On Missile Defense Projects Baseless January 26, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Proposed U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic will not affect Russian security but will be designed to intercept missiles planned by Iran that would be capable of reaching Eastern Europe, a senior Defense official said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering rejected Russian claims that the U.S. plan would upset the security balance. Russian officials have warned of the possibility of countermeasures.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday that U.S. systems being considered could not be directed against Iran because that country has no intercontinental ballistic missiles and will not have any in the future.

Obering, speaking to reporters during a telephone news conference, agreed that Iran poses no long-range threat to Eastern Europe today, “but we have to stay ahead of what we think that threat is.”

Beyond that, he said, the interceptors the U.S. plans for Poland and the Czech Republic are insignificant compared with Russian capabilities.

“There is no way, shape or form that 10 interceptors can neutralize the hundreds of missiles in the Russian arsenal,” Obering said. “I can’t be any more plain that that.”

He said U.S. defense officials have traveled to Russia to explain U.S. intentions and plan more such consultations in the future.

Asked if Russia would be allowed to send observers to the sites, Obering said, “We have nothing to hide. But any invitation would be subject to consultations with the host governments.”

The $3.5 billion program for Poland will be completed in 2011 or 2012, Obering said.

At one point, he said the program will be designed to deal with “rogue nations,” but he mentioned no country in that category besides Iran.

A Polish journalist asked whether any compensation would be paid to the country in exchange for Poland’s willingness to serve as a host missile defense country. Obering said no such benefit is planned because the project will enhance Polish security.

He added that the U.S.has other Eastern European countries in mind if negotiations with Poland and the Czech republic over terms of the deployments are unsuccessful.

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