US written AMD promise ‘not good enough’

The US has offered a written promise not to use its anti-missile shield in Europe against Russia. Moscow still wants a legally-binding document rather than any non-binding declaration – written or not.

Meanwhile, the government of Romania on Wednesday approved legislation that would authorize the deployment of US missile interceptors in the country as part of a US missile shield. The legislation still needs to be approved by the parliament.

US efforts to move ahead with its missile defense system in Europe have been met with scepticism and resistance by Russia.

The US is trying to convince Russia that the anti-missile defense system (AMD) it is deploying in Eastern Europe will not compromise Russia’s national security.

US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher said Washington can offer written assurances on the issue, but not to the extent that Moscow wants.

“We cannot provide legally-binding commitments, nor can we agree to limitations on missile defense, which must necessarily keep pace with the evolution of the threat,” she said on Tuesday at a forum in Washington hosted by the Atlantic Council.

American interceptors cannot target Russian ballistic missiles, assured the director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, who was also attending the event. He added that the Russian military are welcome to witness any test of the interceptors with their own equipment to see that for themselves.

Russia’s Foreign Minister has criticized on Wednesday American approach to the project, saying that Washington is moving on with regardless of Russia’s consent.

"The first step is to agree upon architecture of the AMD, which would guarantee that it is aimed outside of Europe and does not pose risks to any part of Europe. Only after that can it be cast ‘in metal’ and parties can call each other to observe it,” Sergey Lavrov said.

American offer is better what they offered earlier, but Moscow needs a legal guarantee for its concerns to be alleviated, says Konstantin Kosachev, Chair of the Russian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Written declarations are a good step forward, but this is not enough,” he told RT.

Russian envoy to NATO also argues it must be a serious document and not a useless scrap of paper.

“When we talk about written guarantees and not insurances, we mean not just paper, but a concrete legally-binding agreement which has to be bilaterally signed between the US and Russia,” Dmitry Rogozin, told RT. “The treaty has to be ratified in the corresponding chambers of Parliament. It must not only contain words like 'our anti-missile defense system is not against you', or 'our anti-missile defense system is not for you' either."

"It must be a serious document which has to assume the extent of trust and verification. All the rest is useless scrap paper, like a proposal to Russia to send specialists to monitor missile defense test flights. That's a holiday and not serious co-operation.”

Earlier, both Russian and American officials admitted that the negotiations on the European AMD have stalled. Russia wants nothing short of a guarantee that the system would not harm its nuclear potential. The US will not accept any limitation on their project.

A group of NATO military experts are to arrive in Moscow next Tuesday to discuss the issue, but no breakthrough is expected.

­Activist Bruce Gagnon believes Russia has reasonable grounds to be suspicious of the defense system.

“The US is out to militarily surround Russia. These missile defense systems are part of a US first-strike strategy. These systems are now being deployed not only in Romania, but the radar is going to be put into Turkey. The US is now talking to Georgia about putting one of these missile defense radars there. Also Patriot missile defense systems have been deployed by the US in Poland,” Gagnon told RT.