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Missile shield impasse

May 3, 2012

Russian officials say they could react to the deployment of a NATO missile defense shield with fresh military investment of their own. This comes ahead of talks between the two sides in Moscow.

In this Thursday, April 14, 2011 photo released by the Missile Defense Agency, a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from the USS O?Kane in a joint Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test conducted at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. The SM-3 successfully intercepted a target missile launched from the Reagan Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Image: dapd

There was no sign of compromise on Thursday in a row between Russia and NATO over the Western military alliance's plan to build a missile defense shield in Poland.

Just hours before senior officials from the two sides were to meet at a missile defense conference in Moscow, Russia's defense minister, Angatoly Serdyukov said the two sides had reached an impasse.

"We have not been able to find mutually acceptable solutions at this point and the situation is practically at a dead end," Serdyukov told a televised news conference.

The US and its European allies say the missile shield is needed to defend against possible attacks from countries like Iran, which the West fears is seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

Moscow objects to the deployment of the NATO missile shield on Polish soil, despite receiving repeated assurances that it is not directed against Russia.

Possible response from Russia

Some senior Russian defense officials, like the chief of staff, General Nikolai Makarov, have warned that Moscow could respond to the perceived threat with new investment in military hardware of their own.

"The deployment of new strike weapons in Russia's south and northwest - including of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad - is one of our possible options for destroying the system's European infrastructure," Makarov said.

"A thorough analysis by the defense ministry's research organizations showed that once the third and fourth stages are deployed, the capability to intercept Russian inter-continental ballistic missiles will be real," the general added.

The defense shield has dogged relations between Moscow and Washington for the past decade, since it the project was initiated by the administration of then President George W. Bush.

Since President Barack Obama came to office in 2009, Russia has repeatedly rejected offers to cooperate with NATO on the project.

The Western military alliance plans to announce the deployment of the first phase of the missile defense shield at a NATO summit in Chicago next month.

pfd/ncy (dpa, AFP, AP)