Friday, April 08, 2011

Russia wants 'red button' rights for US missile defence system

Sergey Ivanov, Russia's deputy prime minister, made the controversial demand during a visit to the United States where he met with top officials including Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State.

"We insist on only one thing," he said of the nascent US-backed missile defence shield. "That we are an equal part of it."

"In practical terms, that means that our office will sit for example in Brussels and agree on a red-button push to launch an interceptor missile, regardless of whether the missile is launched from Poland, Russia or the UK."

Russia has been pushing hard for a prominent role in the new missile shield for months but with little noticeable success as Washington and its allies remain deeply sceptical of Russia's reliability as a political and military partner.

The United States has said the new shield is needed to protect Europe and itself from long-range missile attacks from rogue states such as Iran. But Russia has argued that the new system will blunt its own nuclear deterrent. It has threatened to beef up its own nuclear forces if it is excluded or granted only a junior role in the project.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, tried to pacify the Kremlin last month by offering to share information about the new system and by offering to build a joint data centre.

But Russian government officials have since made it clear that such a compromise does not go far enough.

President Barack Obama diluted Washington's original plans to build a missile defence shield around facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic in the face of fierce Russian opposition.


they're bluffing, or do they want the keys to the Chinese system too?


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