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Russia still wary of US missile shield: Lavrov

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) April 16, 2009
US proposals to ease Moscow's concerns over its plans to site a missile shield in Europe are merely "symbolic," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments published Thursday.

"Overall, the measures of 'transparency and trust' offered to us were mostly symbolic and could not contribute to mitigating Russian concerns," Lavrov said, answering reader's questions in the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

It was unlikely that the United States would agree to a jointly controlled missile defence system, a proposal put forth by Moscow as an alternative to the US shield, he added.

"The US, as everyone knows, has never given control to anyone, will not now and obviously will never give up control over their strategic systems," he said. Moscow had proposed a "dual key" control system giving Russia the power to block launches.

Russo-US relations were badly strained under the administration of former US president George W. Bush, which pushed ahead with plans to deploy parts of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic despite Moscow's objections.

While Washington views the shield as protection from "rogue" states such as Iran, Moscow says the system poses a threat to its nuclear deterrent.

But both countries have offered up diplomatic overtures and hopes for better relations under US President Barack Obama.

Lavrov dubbed the moment a "historic chance" but added that Russia was still waiting for the United States to prove its willingness to reset relations.

But he added: "The reset technology works only if the people employing it want it to."

Previous such attempts had been thwarted by NATO's eastward expansion in the 1990s and by US support for Georgia during its war last year with Russia, he said.

"The problem is that in the last 20 years we twice unilaterally carried out such a reset with the aim of breaking down Cold War barriers, and twice we were met with the unwillingness of our partners to meet us halfway," Lavrov said.

Obama said this month that he would move ahead with US plans for the missile shield, saying Iran remained a "real threat" but adding that the system needed to be "cost-effective and proven."

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BMD Focus: Russia boosts ICBM arsenal
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 14, 2009
Russia's leaders appear interested in a new strategic arms-reduction agreement with the United States. But until one is finally negotiated, they are pushing ahead with an ambitious and expanded program of nuclear-missile development.

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