NATO Chief Says Missile Defense Shield Will Not Threaten Russia

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has reiterated that the alliance's plan to build a missile-defense shield in Europe will not "threaten" Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has reiterated that the alliance's plan to build a missile-defense shield in Europe will not "threaten" Russia.

Rasmussen was speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where discussions over the defense shield were held between foreign ministers from the 28-member alliance, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Rasmussen said NATO's proposed defense shield will protect Europe from missiles fired from rogue nations and would not "threaten" Russia or its strategic position in the region.

"Within NATO, we are making good progress in developing an integrated, alliance-wide missile defense system," Rasmussen said. "This system does not threaten Russia.  Nor does it alter the strategic balance. So I am confident that there, too, we can find a way forward, in a spirit of dialogue, trust, and transparency that we have built up around this table over the last 15 years."

He reiterated the alliance’s commitment to working closely with Russia despite making little progress on the issue so far.

"It is well-known that we do not agree on all issues," Rasmussen said. "But it is also clear that we are committed to continue discussing all issues, at all times -- because the NATO-Russia Council is an all-weather forum. And it still has untapped potential."

Russia, meanwhile, has long suspected the missile-defense shield will neutralize its nuclear deterrent.

Russia has previously demanded “legally binding” guarantees that it will not be targeted, since the shield could reach parts of its territory.

According to some reports, NATO is expected to declare the missile defense shield, a U.S.-sponsored project, partially operational at a NATO summit in Chicago in May, although full capability is not expected before 2020.

Romania has already signed a deal with NATO for 24 interceptor missiles to be based there, while Turkey has agreed to have in its territory a sophisticated American radar system.

At the meeting, NATO and Russian ministers also discussed a plan to give the alliance a new logistics facility on Russian territory for the transfer of military cargo to and from Afghanistan.

Moscow has provided NATO with air and railway routes for carrying supplies to and from the landlocked country.

The supply route has become particularly important since Pakistan blocked NATO supplies from crossing its territory last November.

The move comes despite Lavrov criticizing NATO for what he called its "artificial" timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"We are very concerned about how events will unfold after the planned withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan," Lavrov said. "We believe any withdrawal must be synchronized with the process of ensuring that Afghan security forces are capable of controlling the situation in their own country and combating extremist groups and drug traffickers."

The majority of the NATO-led international force is scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014. NATO has said it is planning to train some 350,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen by the end of this year as it works to fill the void that will be created by the withdrawal of foreign combat troops.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

Copyright (c) RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


Spero News

Disney drops 'Good Luck Charlie'

Most popular show on television in its time-slot for youth under 15.

Conference to focus on advances for Paraguayan electronic media

An international conference on digital migration will take place in Paraguay on July 4, just as the South American country concludes an agreement with El Salvador to share electronic content.

Mexico: Food prices sky-rocket

Tomatoes are going for $5.77 per kilo in Mexico.

On Heaven and Earth: an excerpt

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, before his election to the papacy as Francis, conversed with Rabbi Abraham Skorka on the commonalities of Jewish and Catholic faith.

Video of the Day

New audio of deadly arrest of college student

Family says autopsy shows drunk student was shot in the back by police officer.

History & Science

European airlines switch to two-man rule following Germanwings crash

Thomas Cook, Virgin Air, EasyJet and Norwegian declared that they are switching procedures to require two persons at all times in jetliner cockpits. This follows post-911 procedure for U.S. airlines.

Book review: My Battle Against Hitler

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German theologian who resisted Germany's National Socialism.

This page took 0.1367seconds to load