A senior Russian official said yesterday he saw no signs that the United States was rethinking plans for missile defense installations in Europe, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 17).
Moscow was vocal in its opposition to the Bush administration plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. Russian leaders characterized the proposal as a danger to their nation's strategic security and threatened in response to deploy short-range missiles near its border.
U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that a decision on the European sites would be based on the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of the system and the missile threat posed by Iran. However, he has also sought strengthened relations with Russia, leaving some observers to suspect that the missile defense plan might fall by the wayside.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov appeared to dismiss that idea.
"The Americans have not reviewed their plans and I don't think this can happen. On the contrary, we see an intensification of work in the area of missile defense, including within the format of NATO," he told Interfax.
Iskander missiles could still be fielded in the Kaliningrad region, Ryabkov said: "No one has changed this position. ... If there is no missile shield, there won't be any Iskanders."
Ryabkov also said that Russia is not likely to make major cuts to its nuclear arsenal. Officials from Moscow and Washington are scheduled to meet Friday in Rome to begin talks on a follow-up pact to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December (see GSN, April 17).
"Conditions are not ripe and there is no basis today to consider radical reductions" of the Russian strategic arsenal, Ryabkov said (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, April 21).