France says missile shield not a priority

20th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, March 19, 2007 (AFP) - France sees no need to rush to develop an anti-missile shield to protect European people from attack, a senior French defence official said Monday.

BRUSSELS, March 19, 2007 (AFP) - France sees no need to rush to develop an anti-missile shield to protect European people from attack, a senior French defence official said Monday.

"France takes the missile threat seriously, but at the moment it is more about protecting troops than territories or populations," said Robert Ranquet, deputy head of strategic affairs at the French defence ministry.

He said France was playing an active role in NATO's theatre missile defence system, which would be deployed to protect troops in the field from attack.

"For a mid-sized country like France, there are ideas that it can put forward and others that it cannot," he said, at an missile defence conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

He said missile shields, like the one the United States says it is developing to counter attacks from "rogue states" like Iran, are expensive and that their "efficiency is doubtful".

"We will continue to use our nuclear arsenal as the ultimate dissuasion," he added.

Since January, the United States has been negotiating to build 10 interceptors in Poland to knock down missiles mid-flight at extremely high altitudes.

The interceptors, which would not have an explosive war-head, would home in on information provided by a tracking station in the Czech Republic, as well as a forward operating radar at an undisclosed location in the Caucasus.

Last year NATO completed a feasibility study which concluded that Europe does face the threat of missile attack and that it is technically possible to build a defence system, but no action has been taken on it.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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