Moscow (RIA Novosti) May 08, 2007
Russia's strategic missile forces will equip the Topol-M missile system with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, the commander said Monday. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said the new system will help penetrate missile defenses more effectively. His statement comes against the background of growing tensions between Moscow and the West regarding plans by the United States to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Central Europe.
Washington has insisted that placing air shield components in Poland and the Czech Republic was aimed against possible nuclear strikes from rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, whose controversial nuclear programs have caused international concerns. But Moscow, already unnerved by NATO expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has condemned the plans as a threat to national security and a destabilizing factor for Europe.
Solovtsov said the Strategic Missile Forces would consider the new threats in their deployment plans. "If the U.S. proceeds with the air shield expansion plans, despite serious opposition from people in Europe, the Strategic Missile Forces will manage to take adequate measures to counter threats that may face Russia," the commander said.
He said the forces will complete the deployment of silo-based Topol-M systems in the Saratov Region in southern Russia and mobile systems in the Ivanovo Region in central Russia in 2010.
The forces' press service said silo-based systems on duty would total 48 by late 2007. As of December 2006, the Strategic Missile Forces operated 44 silo-based and three mobile systems.
Solovtsov also said that new kinds of equipment were being developed for mobile systems and that 12 test-launches would be conducted from different ballistic systems in 2007.
earlier related report
"We have agreed to a Russian suggestion that the secretaries of defense and state meet with their Russian counterparts and do so in a so-called 2+2" format, Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried told reporters.
Fried said the first meeting was tentatively planned for around September, though no dates had been set, and could be expanded to include the White House and Kremlin national security advisers.
The Russians suggested the enhanced negotiations during a visit to Moscow last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates focused on addressing Russian concerns about US plans to station 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic.
Moscow, which has been increasingly vocal in its public criticism of US policy in recent weeks, has protested that the anti-missile shield poses a strategic threat by undermining its own missile deterrence capabilities.
Russian army chief General Yury Baluyevsky ramped up the criticism Thursday by charging that deployment of anti-missile sites was "the beginning of a new round of an uncontrollable arms race" in Europe.
President Vladimir Putin, already angry over the expansion of the US-led NATO alliance into former Soviet bloc countries, escalated the dispute last week by announcing that Russia was suspending compliance with a key Cold-War era defense pact, the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.
Opposition Democrats in the US Congress have also questioned the US missile plan, which would cost some 3.5 billion dollars and has yet to be proven effective in the testing phase.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during a meeting of NATO and Russian foreign ministers in Oslo last week, dismissed the Russian complaints as "ludicrous."
Washington says the anti-missile shield, which would not be operational before 2012, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, possibly tipped with nuclear weapons, that could in the future be fired by Iran or other "rogue states."
Rice said the proposed European base would be far too limited in size and capability to affect Russia's massive ballistic missile arsenal.
Fried, who accompanied Gates to Moscow and Rice to Oslo, said the Russian concerns were based on "a misunderstanding of the limitations and capability" of the proposed sites and on fears of how they could be expanded in future.
During the Moscow trip, Gates presented a wide-ranging proposal for working together on missile defense, including technical cooperation, systems integration and joint testing of components, to convince the Russians the US project did not, and would not in the future, represent a threat.
"There were all kinds of very specific elements and when the Russians saw it, they were quite taken aback," he said. "They had obviously not expected a proposal that was this far reaching and this serious."
"They are perfectly capable of telling the difference between empty words and real proposals, and they knew that this was real," he said.
The two sides agreed to set up several working groups to explore the missile defense and CFE matters, as well as other weapons program issues, and their work will feed into the 2+2 meeting, he said.
"The Russians came to us some time ago and said we really do need to increase our strategic dialogue," he said.
"We agreed with them, and I think we're in the process of doing that and were going to have quite a number of channels up and running," he said.
The US plan also sparked concerns in Europe and remains unpopular with the publics in both Poland and the Czech Republic.
The two governments have voiced support for the plan, although formal negotiations with Washington on the details of deployment have yet to begin.
NATO, at last week's ministerial meeting, voiced its support for the project and for US efforts to draw Russia into the process.
Source: RIA Novosti
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Vienna (AFP) May 08, 2007
Iran accepted an agenda compromise Tuesday in the waning days of a UN non-proliferation conference that saved the meeting from collapse and opened the door to talks on compliance with nuclear rules. The two-week conference had been deadlocked since opening on April 30 as Iran, which the United States charges is secretly developing the atomic bomb and which is under UN sanctions for its nuclear work, objected to an agenda item that called for full compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
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