US military chief says European missile defense shield no threat to Russia

Michael Mullen and Nikolay Makarov (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)
The missile defense system planned by the US and NATO for Europe will not be directed against Russia, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen insists.

­This system would be used solely to defend US partners against potential missile threats from dangerous regimes “such as Iran,” Mullen argued. The US top military official met on Friday with his Russian counterpart, chief of the Russian General Staff, General Nikolay Makarov.

That is the position of the US government, Mullen noted, and it was stated during the talks in the Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg.

Makarov, however, stressed that disagreement remain over the potential threat that the new system may pose to Moscow’s strategic nuclear forces. But the two parties may reach agreement on some of the points, he said, if they look “for common principles and breakthrough positions.”

The chief of the Russian General Staff this week said the agreement between Washington and Bucharest on deploying US interceptor missiles on the territory of Romania by 2015 comes ahead of the Russian-NATO agreement on missile defense.

He warned Moscow would insist that NATO provides guarantees that the system will not be directed against Russia’s strategic forces. First, it is necessary to develop the architecture of the AMD shield for Europe, and then to deploy its elements, the general said.

On Friday, the Russian and US top military officials also discussed military co-operation between Moscow and Washington and the situation in the Arab world and North Africa. They also signed a memorandum on joint action against terrorism. Exchanging information is vital in fighting off the terrorist threat, Mullen noted.

His trip will last until May 7, and the US delegation will visit the corvette Steregushchy [Guardian] and the submarine St. Petersburg of the Leningrad Naval Base.