A senior NATO official on Friday said the alliance is prepared to grant Russia's demand for a pledge that it would not be the target of a planned European missile shield, the Xinhua News Agency reported (see GSN, Sept. 8).
Russia for months has engaged in discussions with NATO on the missile shield, which would connect and augment the capabilities of member nations and encompass U.S. plans for European missile defenses.
Moscow is concerned that despite public statements to the contrary, the missile interceptors would secretly be aimed at undermining the Russian nuclear deterrent. The Kremlin has called for a legally binding guarantee against such a possibility and has threatened to pursue a new strategic arms buildup if an agreement with NATO cannot be reached, according to previous reports.
"We can give political reassurances that the missile defense system is not aimed against Russia. These will be political wordings. Then they will be set out on paper," NATO Assistant Secretary General Dirk Brengelmann said at a news conference on Friday (Xinhua News Agency, Sept. 9).
"It would be possible to have a statement in the long run," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying (RIA Novosti, Sept. 9).
Speaking to Ekho Moskvy radio, he said such a statement might be inked by top NATO officials, Xinhua reported (Xinhua News Agency).
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week reaffirmed his country's stance against a radar station slated to be established on Turkish territory as part of the NATO missile shield, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Turkey is among our brothers and close friends but when the enemies install a missile shield there and acknowledge that this act is against Iran, then one has to be watchful," Ahmadinejad said.
Ankara on Friday said the "system is not against any country."
"It aims at the defense of the NATO sphere," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal added (Agence France-Presse/Spacedaily.com, Sept. 9).