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US To Pursue Missile Shield With Or Without Moscow's Nod

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 03, 2007
Washington hopes to find common ground with Russia on a controversial US missile defense shield in eastern Europe but will go ahead with its plans anyway if no deal can be reached, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

"We want to cooperate with Russia," said Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy.

"But that being said, I don't think if for some reason we're unable to reach a commonly agreed way ahead, that we would want to accede to Russia being able to dictate what we do bilaterally with other countries or what NATO does as an alliance.

"So I'm still very hopeful we will be able to reach some understandings with Russia that will allay their concerns," he added.

Russia has strongly objected to a US plan to put a radar system in the Czech Republic and missiles in neighboring Poland to defend against what Washington says are potential attacks from "rogue" states such as Iran or North Korea.

Both the Czech Republic and Poland were under Moscow's control in Soviet times but they are now members of the NATO military alliance and have said that Russia has no say in their security arrangements.

The United States believes that the "threat" posed by Iran "starts to mature in around 2015," Edelman said.

"And that's one of the reasons we're moving ahead now is we want to have a capability in place to meet that threat and the timeline it's developing on."

Edelman recalled that Russia has, under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the right to maintain around 100 interceptors around Moscow.

"I think they've got about, I think 85 or 86 nuclear-tipped interceptors deployed. Don't see how that's been a threat to the stability of Europe over the last 35 years," Edelman said.

"The fact that we're going to have potentially 10 ... non-nuclear, non-explosive kinetic vehicles in Poland -- I don't think that's a threat to Russia."

EU foreign ministers have said they will await NATO talks with Russia on April 19, at which a US delegation is to ask for Russian cooperation, before formally discussing US plans for the anti-missile shield.

Russia's foreign minister on Saturday denied that Russia was ready to let the United States place part of its controversial missile defense shield on Russian territory.

Earlier, a foreign ministry official had said anonymously that Russia would consider allowing the deployment on its territory of elements of a collective missile defense shield for the European continent, with US participation.

Parts of the US missile shield are already in place in the United States, Britain and Greenland, and Pentagon officials say the plan is to have the system operational by 2013.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Japan Deploys Its Own Patriots
Washington (UPI) April 03, 2007
The vision of Junichiro Koizumi to create an anti-ballistic missile shield over Japan took a giant leap towards fulfillment Friday. On that day, Japan's Air Self-defense Force announced that its first battery of U.S.-built Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3s was operational at the Iruma Air Base north of Tokyo to defend the Japanese capital, the Kyodo news agency reported.

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