Russian officials said on Thursday their suspicions about U.S. ballistic missile defense efforts have not been resolved by the Obama administration's cancellation of a planned next-generation interceptor, Reuters reported.
Moscow has complained for years that the developing U.S.-NATO missile shield in Europe could pose a danger to its strategic nuclear deterrent. Its primary concern appeared focused on the Standard Missile 2 Block 2B interceptor that would have had limited ICBM-destroying capabilities.
The Defense Department announced last month it would scrap the weapon in favor of placing more silo-based interceptors in Alaska.
"There is still time to search for a solution to this problem, but it requires political will, and so far this has not been apparent in sufficient measure from the American side," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said during a meeting in Moscow.
Ryabkov and Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov reaffirmed the Kremlin's demand for a legally binding agreement that Russian nuclear weapons would not be targeted by the new missile shield. Washington and Brussels have refused to provide such a pledge, while saying the missile defenses are aimed squarely at threats from Iran.
"The Americans always say, 'Aw, forget about your guarantees -- let's start cooperating, and as we cooperate you'll see how harmless our system is,'" Antonov said. "We are not prepared to do things that way."
U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon is believed to have discussed the issue this week with Russian officials in Moscow. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also likely to consider the matter during two planned meetings this year.