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Poland to Press Ahead With National Antimissile System

Poland's top diplomat on Wednesday said his nation would press ahead with an expensive plan to develop a national missile defense system, even as the United States reaffirmed plans to field antimissile technology in its NATO ally, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We will create our own air-defense system. Our national missile shield, with the American shield, the elements of which will be on our territory by 2018 and will make up part of the NATO system," Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said to lawmakers.

The U.S. Defense Department on Friday announced that it was canceling the fourth and final phase of the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" for fielding missile defense assets in Europe. Rather than beginning development and deployment of a next-generation Standard Missile 3 interceptor, the Pentagon is focusing on placing 14 additional silo-based strategic ballistic missile interceptors in Alaska.

Earlier-model SM-3 systems and a radar are still to be placed in Poland in 2018 as part of the U.S.-NATO missile shield.

"Let me emphasize the strong and continued commitment of the United States to NATO missile defense. That commitment remains ironclad," Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, said in a Wednesday speech in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Phase one through phase three of the European phased adaptive approach, including sites in Romania and Poland, will provide coverage of all European NATO territory as planned by 2018," AFP quoted Gottemoeller as saying.

Gottemoeller and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed missile defense, Cooperative Threat Reduction cooperation, and other arms control matters earlier in the week in Geneva, Interfax reported.

Russia has regularly complained of the U.S. missile defense plans for Europe, focusing on the now-canceled SM-3 Block 2B that was intended to have a limited capacity to eliminate ICBMs. Some observers have said the change in the U.S. project could open the door for new nuclear arms reduction talks with Moscow.

However, after meeting with Gottemoeller, Ryabkov said "we don't see any concessions from the United States. Thus, Russia's approach towards missile defense remains unchanged," ITAR-Tass reported. Russia remains intent on receiving a "legally binding agreement" that its strategic nuclear deterrent would not be targeted by the NATO shield, he added.

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