U.S. to press ahead with missile defence despite Iran report?
Meanwhile, as the deadlock continues, Russia is seeking to expand its military force.
Washington claims that Iran continues to pose a threat. Iran may not have nuclear weapons, but it does have missiles. This seems to be the new line used by the Bush administration to justify a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe.
Earlier this week, a new intelligence report claimed Iran stopped its nuclear weapons programme four years ago, but it seems to mean little to the Bush administration.
“As long as Iran is continuing with its uranium and plutonium programmes, and as long as it doesn't come clean with the IAEA, I think the Bush administration is going to press ahead with its missile defence plans in Europe,” said John Pike, GlobalSecurity.org director.
Meanwhile, Russia insists Tehran has no atomic ambitions.
“They're trying to tell us that, on November 20, Iran tested a new missile ‘Ashoura’ with a range of 2,000 km. When we asked them to share this data, they refused. At this time, I can't say if these tests actually took place,” said Yury Baluevsky.
As missile defence talks remain deadlocked, Russian warships are steaming towards the Atlantic. This is the beginning of a series of naval exercises. Russian ships are expected to visit 11 ports in 16 countries.
“We are not trying to demonstrate our power. Someone clever once said that there is no need to show off you power, it's better to demonstrate the ability to use it. And that's what we are doing,” commented Yury Baluevsky.
John Pike, on the contrary, considers these naval exercises to be a demonstration of Russia's military capabilities or a reminder of them.
In addition to boosting its navy, Russia might also expand its land forces after suspending its commitment to the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty on December 12.
Russia claims the treaty is outdated, and that Western countries have failed to ratify the amended version which, it says, is more in line with today's situation.