Monday, June 15, 2009

US missile shield hurts NATO interests: UK MPs


US missile shield hurts NATO interests: UK MPs
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 13:31:58 GMT
British members of parliament have expressed concern that plans for a US missile shield in Eastern Europe would jeopardize NATO interests in the region.

Moscow has slammed Washington's bid to place the anti-missile system in two ex-soviet states, questioning US claims that the system is a measure against potential attacks from 'rouge states.'

British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, with lawmakers from the country's main political parties, also expressed reserve over the plans in a report on weapons proliferation, Reuters reported Saturday.

“We are not convinced that, as they are currently envisaged and under current circumstances, the United States' planned ballistic missile defense (BMD) deployments in the Czech Republic and Poland represent a net gain for European security,” the report said.

The report also stressed that pushing ahead with the plans despite Kremlin's objection would risk alienating Russia and could prove “highly detrimental to NATO's overall security interests.”

The committee also “regretted” the British government's decision to allow the US access to two Royal Air Force (RAF) bases in Britain as part of the US missile defense system.

The lawmakers argued that, “the United States' development of its system involved its abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” from which the United States withdrew seven years ago.

Moscow has denounced the plans, which were introduced under former US president George W. Bush during whose eight-year term the two counties relations plunged to a post-Cold War low.

Calling the antimissile shield a provocation, Russia said it would place short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania -- both NATO members.

US President Barack Obama seems determined to continue with the plan as long as Iran, which Washington accuses of seeking to obtain nuclear weapons, continues with its nuclear program -- Tehran has repeatedly said that its nuclear activities are civilian in nature.

A recent study by a group of Russian and American military and academic experts for US-based think tank EastWest Institute both undermined the effectiveness of the anti-missile defense system and the likelihood of an "imminent" attack from Iran.

The reports said the system would not offer reliable protection against an Iranian threat "if and when it emerges," as in theory the system could be easily 'overwhelmed with rockets or decoys.'



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