Noordwijk (Netherlands) : Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov billed the latest offer from the US on a missile shield in Europe as “unacceptable”, Itar-Tass reported Thursday from the Netherlands, where the Russian official attended an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers.
US missile defence proposals are unacceptable and do not suit Russia. There remain disagreements over a number of issues between Russia and NATO countries, in the first place over missile defence and on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty,” the Russian news agency quoted Serdyukov as saying.
The US plans to base 10 interceptor rockets in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic.
Washington says the shield is designed to protect it and its European allies from a possible missile attack by Iran.
But Moscow is not convinced and has talked about “neutralising” the installations.
Addressing Russia’s concerns, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defence Robert Gates offered to delay its plans and invited Russia to cooperate in the project during an Oct 12 visit to Moscow.
In a move seen as a response to the missile shield plans, Russia’s parliament will next month begin discussing proposals to freeze or pullout of a Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.
Addressing reporters, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said such a move would be “deplorable”.
“I sincerely hope it will not happen. NATO considers this treaty as one of the cornerstones, if not the cornerstone, of European security,” he said.
“The allies and I would deplore very much if the Russian Federation were to decide to suspend or leave the treaty,” he added.
While all 26 NATO members agree that Iran poses a growing threat but not all agree that it is an urgent matter.
The CFE treaty limits conventional military equipment in Europe. It was first negotiated towards the end of the Cold War and was subsequently revised.