5/2/2012 - NATO May Decide on Stepping Up Missile Defense in Chicago – Defense Ministry
NATO is likely to make new decisions on the further deployment of the European missile defense shield, a stumbling point in Russian-U.S. relations, during the upcoming alliance’s summit in Chicago, Russian Deputy Defense minister Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta that is due to be published on Wednesday, Antonov said that the NATO states-members were expected to announce “an initial operation readiness” of the European missile defense system.
“There are also new decisions on the further missile defense integration within the European shield expected to be made at the summit,” Antonov said, adding that the third stage of the missile defense shield’s deployment that is due to start in 2017, may trigger a harsh reaction from Russia.
The NATO summit, due to be held in Chicago, is scheduled for May 20-21.
The proposed U.S.-led missile shield in Europe remains a major source of tension between Russia and the United States, and the Kremlin has threatened to deploy tactical weapons close to Europe if it is not made full partner in the scheme.
The U.S.-led NATO alliance and Russia agreed in 2010 to cooperate on building missile defenses in Europe. Russia has however demanded legally-binding, written guarantees that the project would not undermine Russian security, something Washington has declined to provide.