Russia renews demands for missile shield 'guarantees'
Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday renewed demands for "solid legal guarantees" that a proposed US missile defense shield in Europe is not aimed at Russia.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had concerns about Europe, where the United States wants a shield, and the Asia-Pacific -- a veiled reference to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Lavrov demanded "universally acceptable approaches" to missile defense, weaponization of space and reducing conventional arms imbalances.
The United States has insisted that its missile shield is intended to stop attacks by rogue states such as Iran. Russia fears that it aims to undermine its nuclear deterrent. NATO has already rejected calls to give a binding declaration about the shield.
Without mentioning the United States, Lavrov said: "Deployment of strategic missile defense elements in various parts of the world alters the overall configuration of international security.
"It is not enough to make statements that the increase in global missile defense capabilities would not undermine the basics of strategic capability. The issue is way too serious.
"We need solid legal guarantees" that the missile defense is aimed at the "declared objectives and will not disrupt global and regional balances."
"This equally holds true for Europe, and for the Asia-Pacific region, where ballistic missile defense is becoming a factor that affects the strategic environment," the Russian minister said.
Lavrov also reaffirmed Russia's demand for a negotiated end to the standoffs with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs.
"We see no alternative to their political and diplomatic settlement," he said, calling for new efforts to set up talks. He warned the United States and others dealing with Iran and North Korea to act "with utmost responsibility".
© 2011 AFP