Russia says to drop Iskander plans if US scraps missile shield

March 3rd, 2009 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, March 3 (RIA Novosti) Russia Tuesday said it would drop its plans of placing Iskander missiles on Europe’s doorstep if the US abandoned its plans of deploying missile defence systems in Central Europe.
“If the deployment (of US missile defence elements) is suspended, we will not start the retaliatory measures we planned,” Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

“We are ready to continue discussions on this issue, including in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council,” the minister told reporters here after meeting his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung, who is in Russia to discuss issues of bilateral military cooperation, including the rail and air transit of military cargo for German troops in Afghanistan via Russia.

Washington has agreed with Warsaw and Prague on plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013. The US says the defences are needed to deter possible strikes from “rogue states” such as Iran.

Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to deploy Iskander-M missiles in the country’s westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if the shield was put into operation.

Top Russian officials have repeatedly expressed hope that new US President Barack Obama will not follow missile defence plans of his predecessor George W. Bush.

The Kremlin denied Tuesday media reports claiming that a letter sent by Obama to Medvedev contained new missile defence proposals.

The reports cited unnamed sources as saying the US president had told his Russian counterpart that Washington will scrap its missile defence plans if Russia would help it in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.

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