US missile defence aimed at Russian nuclear deterrent: Minister

February 7th, 2009 - 12:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Munich, Feb 7 (RIA Novosti) The prospective US missile defence shield in Central Europe targets Russia’s nuclear deterrent, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has said.Speaking at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy Friday, he also said Russia is proposing a ban on the placement of strategic offensive weapons outside national borders in a new Russia-US arms reduction agreement.

Ivanov said Russia would not deploy Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region if the US gave up its missile shield plans.

President Dmitry Medvedev “from the very start said clearly” that if “there are no interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic … there will be no Iskanders in Kaliningrad”, he said.

Moscow has strongly opposed US plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013 as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrent.

Washington says the defences are needed to deter possible strikes from “rogue states” such as Iran.

Medvedev threatened in November to retaliate over the US missile shield plans in Central Europe by deploying Iskander-M missiles in the country’s western most exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

However, a high ranking Russian defence ministry official recently said that Russia had taken no practical measures to deploy the systems in Kaliningrad, and it expect the new US administration to change its stance on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.

Russia and the US should negotiate a new nuclear arms pact this year, and Ivanov said the new agreement should not only reduce the number of warheads, but also limit their deployment within the national borders of the two nuclear powers.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) signed between the two countries in 1991 expires Dec 5, 2009.

It places a limit of 6,000 strategic or long-range nuclear warheads on each side, and limits the number of delivery vehicles such as bombers, land and submarine-based missiles, to 1,600 each.

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