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NATO voices 'serious worries' about Russian missile plans

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Nov 5, 2008
NATO has "serious worries" about the compatibility of Russian plans to deploy missiles in a western Russian enclave with arm control "arrangements," an alliance spokesman said Wednesday.

"We have seen the press reports on the statement of President (Dmitry) Medvedev regarding deployment of Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad region," spokesman Robert Pszczel told AFP.

"If confirmed, it would raise serious worries concerning the conformity with existing arms control arrangements which are important for European security," he added.

"Moreover, placing of these Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region would not help NATO and Russia to improve their relationship."

Medvedev announced earlier Wednesday the deployment of conventionally armed ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, which borders US allies Lithuania and Poland, in response to US missile defence plans.

The Russian leader said the Iskander missiles were being deployed to "neutralise" the threat from planned US missile interceptors in Poland and radar facilities in the Czech Republic.

The United States wants to deploy the shield in the central European nations by 2011-2013 to ward off potential attacks by so-called "rogue" states such as Iran. Russia has denounced the plan as a threat to its own security.

Current Iskanders, which carry conventional warheads and which NATO calls SS-26 Stones, are supposed to have a range of up to 280 kilometres, but an updated version Russia aims to deploy between 2009-2015 could reach close to 500 kilometres (300 miles).

Russia has in the past expressed its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty signed between Moscow and Washington in 1987 and which bans missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometres.

Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have not held regular talks since the military alliance decided that their resumption was conditional on a August 12 ceasefire to the brief Russian-Georgian war being respected.

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Thompson Files: Missile defense realities
Arlington, Va. (UPI) Nov 4, 2008
With the U.S. economy facing the worst outlook in three generations, it isn't hard to figure out where the next administration -- whether it be the Obama or McCain administration -- will focus most of its attention.

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