Russia’s talks over the planned U.S. and NATO missile shield in Europe aren’t past the “point of no return” even as the issue remains an “irritant” between the countries, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.
Russia and the U.S. are unlikely to sign an agreement on the missile-defense system in May during the summits of the Group of Eight and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the U.S., Antonov reporters in Moscow today. The shield’s capabilities allow it to intercept Russia’s ballistic missiles, hurting its strategic deterrent, he said.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who won a six-year term in the Kremlin in the March 4 presidential election, last month accused the U.S. of “shying away” from negotiations over its missile plan and warned that his country will have to develop an asymmetric response to counter the U.S. system in Europe to maintain the balance of power.
The shield system is intended to counter threats from Iran and doesn’t target Russia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in December, reiterating that the plan will go ahead even though Moscow objects.
The U.S will probably proceed with the program even if Iran’s nuclear targets are attacked, Antonov said. Russia is still complying with United Nations-imposed international sanctions against Iran that precluded a delivery Russian S-300 air defense systems, Antonov said, adding that Iran doesn’t present a threat to Europe.
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