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Russian Lawmakers Warn of NATO Weapons Advances

A senior Russian lawmaker on Friday warned that the nation must respond to advances in NATO's weapons capabilities, Interfax reported (see GSN, May 11).

"It was reported a day ago that NATO successfully tested a new-generation missile. Today the Guardian newspaper published extracts from a report by a European organization, which says that NATO is going to replace 180 B-61 free-fall bombs with precision-guided nuclear weapons that will be delivered by U.S. strike aircraft," according to Andrei Klimov, first deputy chairman of the State Duma's foreign affairs panel.

The lawmaker was referring to a European Leadership Network analysis of the status of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons fielded in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

"The North Atlantic alliance's large-scale plans to expand its capabilities have long been no secret to anyone," Klimov said to Interfax. "When some European and U.S. politicians criticize the Russian defense budget, which they believe is unjustifiably big, I would recommend that they take a closer look at what NATO itself has been doing,"

Klimov also addressed the developing NATO missile shield in Europe (see related GSN story, today). He reaffirmed Moscow's stand that the military alliance and the United States provide "legal guarantees that the European missile defense system will not be aimed against our country."

Brussels and Washington have refused to provide such a binding pledge on the missile shield, which involves connecting and augmenting NATO states' antimissile capabilities and deploying U.S. land- and sea-based interceptors around the continent. They argue, though, that the system offers no threat to Russia's sizable strategic deterrent and is instead aimed at countering ballistic missiles from nations such as Iran.

The Communist Party's first deputy chairman on the committee delivered stronger language on the situation.

"This problem has already reached such a degree of tension that now, according to Communist parliamentarians, our country has to pull out from New START unilaterally, and then Americans will become more cooperative on the issue of European missile defense," Leonid Kalashnikov said to Interfax.

The New START treaty entered into force in February 2011. It requires Russia and the United States to by 2018 both draw down their fielded strategic arsenals to 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 delivery systems.

"Americans have never tried to hide their commitment to the concept of fast global strike, and the European missile defense system exists only as a cover after such a strike is carried out so as to destroy the remaining missiles," according to Kalashnikov (Interfax, May 11).

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