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US missile shield to 'keep an eye' on Russian weapons: Moscow

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Feb 2, 2008
Russia's deputy foreign minister accused the United States on Saturday of seeking to deploy an anti-missile shield in Europe in order to "keep an eye" on Moscow's nuclear weapons.

"There is no good reason today to explain the need to deploy this system, if it is not to keep an eye on the Russian deterrent system," said Sergei Kislyak, cited by Interfax news agency.

Kislyak said the United States had in October offered the possibility for Russian officers to be present at the proposed US anti-missile shield sites in the Czech Republic and Poland.

But he said those proposals had never been formulated in writing.

"Also, our specialists' presence at the sites carries no automatic guarantee," the deputy minister said. "The anti-missile shield can be quickly activated and targeted."

The United States is currently negotiating with Prague and Warsaw on the possible installation of 10 interceptor missile sites in Poland by 2012 and associated radar stations in the Czech Republic.

Washington says the shield is needed to defend against potential attacks by what it calls rogue states such as Iran.

Russia strongly opposed the plans and considers them a grave threat to its national security.

Amid concerns about the potential risks of hosting US missile interceptors, Warsaw has been pressing Washington to help upgrade the Polish armed forces, and notably to boost the country's air-defence system.

Polish Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in Washington Friday he had secured an agreement in principle for aid to modernise Polish air defences in return for Warsaw's hosting the controversial US missile shield.

But he added that "a great deal of work" remains, while his host, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, spoke of "some progress" and "some momentum" on missile defence.

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Israelis told to prepare 'rocket rooms' for war
Jerusalem (AFP) Feb 2, 2008
Retired senior officers told Israelis on Saturday to prepare "rocket rooms" as protection against a rain of missiles expected to be fired at the Jewish state in any future conflict.

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