Missile defence talks collapse

Delegations from Moscow and Washington met in the Hungarian capital Budapest in another attempt to smooth out the disagreement over the U.S. deployment of an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe. The meeting has failed to bring any firm results. Still, t

The two delegations were led by Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak and U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-proliferation, John Rood.

The United States plans to deploy a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland to counter what it calls possible threats from “rogue” states such as Iran and North Korea.

Washington continues to maintain this position despite a recent U.S. intelligence estimate that Iran halted its nuclear programme in 2003.

The United States insists Iran could potentially develop nuclear weapons in the future. President Bush also says that Iran still has missiles, so this justifies the deployment of anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, Moscow sees the plans as a threat to Russia's national security and says it would upset the strategic balance of forces.

As an alternative, Russia suggested joint use of Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan.  But there has been little enthusiasm in Washington for the idea.

Moscow also pushed for access to allow tubes to be stationed at the American installations in Eastern Europe. However, the U.S. only agreed to allow visitation rights to those stations.