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Russia Presses U.S. For Missile Security Safeguards

Russia said Monday it knew the proposed U.S. missile defense shield was not aimed at its territory but still needed legal assurances that this would remain the case in the future.

Moscow formally demanded defense safeguards from Washington on May 3 after the United States reached an agreement to station anti-missile interceptors in Romania. (see also “Romania airbase to host US missile shield“)

The United States argues that the shield is aimed at protecting Europe from missile attacks from countries such as Iran and would have no effect against Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal.

But Moscow fears the shield could one day be deployed into a space-based weapon that could strike western and southern Russia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday that the United States had informed it that it had no plans to provide the security safeguards Russia sought.

“We are disappointed with Washington’s reaction,” news agencies quoted the Russian diplomat as saying.

“We understand that the sides have no intention of developing their offensive strategic capabilities against each other,” Ryabkov said. “But we need safeguards that this is how things will remain in the future.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stepped up the diplomatic pressure over the weekend by telling NATO heads of states in a letter that a European missile defense system could only be viable if Russia took part.

He and U.S. President Barack Obama are set to meet on the sidelines of a Group of Eight leading industrialized nations’ summit in France at the end of the month.

By Agence France-Presse

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