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Putin: Missiles may target Europe

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Author Topic: Putin: Missiles may target Europe  (Read 39 times)
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« on: June 05, 2007, 02:13:31 am »

Putin: Missiles may target Europe
POSTED: 9:26 a.m. EDT, June 4, 2007

Russian President Vladamir Putin: We will have to have new targets in Europe

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Moscow could aim nuclear weapons at targets in Europe as part of "retaliatory steps" if Washington proceeds with building a missile defense system on the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday.

Speaking to foreign reporters days before he travels to Germany for the annual summit with President Bush and the other Group of Eight leaders, Putin assailed the White House plan to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. Washington says the system is needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.

In an interview released Monday, Putin suggested that Russia may respond to the threat by aiming its nuclear weapons at Europe.

"If a part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States appears in Europe and, in the opinion of our military specialists, will threaten us, then we will have to take appropriate steps in response. What kind of steps? We will have to have new targets in Europe," Putin said, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin. These could be targeted with "ballistic or cruise missiles or maybe a completely new system" he said.

On Monday, Iran's top security official called the U.S. plans for the missile defense shield a "joke," saying Tehran's missiles do not have the capability to reach Europe.

"Claims by U.S. officials that installing a missile defense system in Europe is aimed at confronting Iranian missiles and protecting Europe against Iran is the joke of the year," Ali Larijani told the state-run IRNA news agency.

"The range of Iran's missiles doesn't reach Europe at all," IRNA quoted Larijani as saying in Iran's first public reaction to the plans. Larijani is secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the country's top security decision-making body.

Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile called the Shahab-3 that has a range of at least 800 miles, capable of striking Israel. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 1,200 miles.

Although Western experts believe Iran is developing the Shahab-4 missile -- thought to have a range between 1,200 and 1,900 miles, which would enable it to hit much of Europe -- Iran has not confirmed such reports.

Iran initially acknowledged in 1999 it was developing the Shahab-4, but claimed it would be used only as a space launch vehicle for commercial satellites.

Putin told reporters that he hoped U.S. officials would change their minds regarding the missile plan, warning that Moscow was preparing a tit-for-tat response.

"If this doesn't happen, then we disclaim responsibility for our retaliatory steps, because it is not we who are the initiators of the new arms race, which is undoubtedly brewing in Europe," he said.

"The strategic balance in the world is being upset and in order to restore this balance without creating an anti-missile defense on our territory we will be creating a system of countering that anti-missile system, which is what we are doing now," Putin said.

Last week, Russia tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and a new cruise missile. While Western analysts said the system has probably been under development for several years, Putin has described the test as part of Moscow's response to the U.S. anti-missile plan.

Putin also suggested that in the absence of a real threat from Iranian and North Korean missiles, the U.S. plan could be an attempt to spoil Russia's relations with Europe.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have soured in the past year. The two former Cold War foes are at odds over Washington's missile plans, over Russia's conflicts with former Soviet nations -- including Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia -- and over U.S. concerns of democratic backsliding in Russia.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Luke Hodiak
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2007, 08:13:24 pm »

Putin offers radar site in Azerbaijan By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent


ROSTOCK, Germany -  Vladimir Putin, bitterly opposed to a U.S. missile shield in Europe, presented President Bush with a surprise counterproposal Thursday built around a Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan rather than new defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush said it was an interesting suggestion and promised to consider it.

Putin's formula would force a major rethinking of U.S. plans for defending Europe against attack from hostile regimes such as        Iran or        North Korea. While outright acceptance of Putin's idea appeared doubtful, the White House seemed eager to avoid further inflaming tensions by giving it short shrift.

The Russian president said he would abandon his threat to retarget missiles on Europe if Bush accepted the Kremlin's missile-defense proposal.

"This is a serious issue and we want to make sure that we all understand each other's positions very clearly," Bush said after an hour-long meeting with Putin. Speaking through a translator, Putin said he was "satisfied with the spirit of openness" from Bush.

With U.S.-Russian relations at a post-Cold War low, the two leaders sought a fresh start on the sidelines of the annual summit of industrialized nations. Tensions were raised in recent days by Bush's accusations that Putin was backsliding on democracy, and by Putin's charges that Bush was starting a new arms race with missile defenses.

At the summit, Bush and Putin joined other world leaders in a compromise on a plan to attack global warming. They agreed to seek substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions but stopped short of committing themselves to specific targets, apparently because of U.S. opposition.

U.S. officials scrambled to react to Putin's proposal, huddling hurriedly before trying to explain it to the press. If nothing else, the Russian president captured global attention with a move that appeared intended to calm jitters in Europe. Even if the White House eventually rejects his idea, Putin can claim he made a stab at compromise and can blame Bush for any adverse consequences.

While they tried to present a cordial picture, Bush and Putin could not even agree on their differences. Bush said Putin "is concerned that the missile defense system is not an act that a friend would do." Putin made a point of correcting Bush. "I have not said that friends do not act in this way," the Russian leader said.

The main point of contention is a U.S. anti-missile program that envisions a radar screen in the Czech Republic to detect incoming rockets and 10 interceptors based in Poland to shoot them down.

Unhappy about        NATO's expansion to Russia's border, the Kremlin is suspicious about the U.S. putting rockets in former Soviet republics.

Putin warned Bush not to proceed with building the system as planned while negotiations with Moscow take place.

"We hope these consultations will not serve as cover for some unilateral action," Putin said. The two presidents will meet again July 1-2 at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Putin's counterproposal would use an aging radar installation at Gabala in northern Azerbaijan, a central Asian country bordering the Caspian Sea, to watch for missile threats.

Rather than build interceptor rockets in Poland, Putin suggested using missiles on U.S. Aegis cruisers to shoot down any threat, according to Steve Hadley, Bush's national security adviser.

Hadley said Putin took the position that the deployment of interceptors was premature, that the weapons they would be designed to destroy have not emerged.

"So, his (Putin's) view is, radar cooperation is fine; the decision about deploying interceptors is premature," Hadley said. "And once these capabilities emerge in Iran or any other state, there will be time to develop and deploy interceptors."

Hadley expressed skepticism about that approach. "Our concern, of course, is that in order to have defensive systems in place, it takes time," he said. "These are long lead-time items, and it would take time to get them deployed."

Further, he said "we've been surprised many times" that countries have built long-range missiles faster than the U.S. intelligence community expected.

Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the        Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, noted that the radar at the Russian facility is an early warning system whereas the U.S. is using a more powerful system, called X-band.

Putin told Bush he had talked about his proposal with Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliev, and that he was amenable to the idea, Hadley said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "This offer shows once again that President Putin is ready to find consensus and he's ready to find solutions, not by confronting, not by threatening anyone well, he's never done that, actually but by working together."

Hadley said, "I think President Putin wanted to de-escalate the tensions a little bit on this issue, and I think it was a useful thing that he did."

Azerbaijan has exchanged opinions on missile defense in talks with Russia and the United States, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the issue with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov during an official visit to Baku last week, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said, according to Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency.

Rasim Musabeyov, an independent political analyst in Azerbaijan, said U.S. involvement would anger Iran and strain Azerbaijan's relations with Tehran, but added that support from Washington and Moscow could counterbalance that effect.


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