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'Arms race' warning over US shield
Russia says US missile shield plans could spark Cold War-style arms race.
Last Modified: 31 May 2007 01:15 GMT
Lavrov criticised the US for brushing off Russian concerns over the missile shield [EPA]

US plans to erect a missile defence system in former Soviet-bloc countries is reigniting a Cold War-style arms race, Russia's top diplomat has said.
 
Speaking at a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Germany, Sergey Lavrov said the US plan was a threat to Russia and Washington's rationale for building it is thin.
"All they are saying is, 'Don't worry it's not aimed at you'," Lavrov said, suggesting US assurances amount to a brush-off.
 
Responding to Lavrov's criticisms Condoleezza Rice said Russia's president has already noted that Moscow's own strategic defences could easily overpower the US system.
The US secretary of state said Washington had repeatedly explained its plan in considerable detail and stands ready to discuss the matter further.
 
Time to 'ventilate'
 
Russia says its new missiles can break
through any missile shield[Reuters]
The latest exchange over the US planned missile system came as officials in Washington announced that the US and Russian presidents would hold a summit meeting in Kennebunkport, Maine, in early July to "ventilate" relations.
 
The two leaders, who will see each other next week at the G8 summit in Germany, will hold talks on July 1 and 2.
 
Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said Bush and Putin would look to boosting cooperation over Iran's nuclear program, disarming North Korea, Russian objections to NATO expansion as well as differences on US missile defence plans.
 
"We've had open disagreements. And one of the interesting things about the president and President Putin is that they are not afraid to ventilate them and they're brutally honest with one another," Snow told reporters.
 
On Tuesday, Russia tested a new multiple-warhead, intercontinental ballistic missile as President Vladimir Putin warned that the planned US missile shield would turn Europe into a "powder keg."
 
Warnings
 

"For us, this is not ludicrous at all, and I hope our American partners will respect our analysis, which we have presented to them in a very professional and detailed way"

Sergey Lavrov, Russian diplomat

Responding to Russian warnings, the Bush administration has said the planned missile system is aimed at preventing Iran from someday threatening Europe.
 
"The idea that this somehow would degrade Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent is just ludicrous, and the Russians know it's ludicrous," Rice told reporters ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Lavrov and other G8 foreign ministers.
 
"There isn't any military person who can imagine this system with a few interceptors and a few sensors and a few radars able to intercept the Russian deterrent."
 
Lavrov later took Rice to task.
 
"For us, this is not ludicrous at all, and I hope our American partners will respect our analysis, which we have presented to them in a very professional and detailed way," he said.
 
US officials say the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic would protect Russia and the rest of Europe from potential attack by Iran, North Korea or other nations.
 
The deployment is part of a Bush administration plan for an eventual larger shield for Europe and North America.
 
The Kremlin says the system threatens the strategic balance of forces in Europe by weakening Russia's ability to retaliate against an offensive strike.
Source:
Agencies
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