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Russian FM Refutes US Claims over Missile Defense
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday dismissed as groundless US claims that the planned deployment of missile defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland are targeted against Iran and North Korea.

The United States is seeking to deploy a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of a US-built shield against ballistic missiles.

"To counter threats, even imagined ones, radars and antimissile launch pads wouldn't seem necessary because the trajectories of the imagined missiles flying from Iran or North Korea go in an absolutely different direction," Lavrov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

"We are studying all this and we must understand what is happening around our borders regarding the configuration of strategic stability," he said.

US officials have repeatedly said the missile defense system is not targeted against Russia. But Lavrov said: "We have to use facts."

"We were once told that NATO would not expand and that no military structure would move into eastern Europe. The time of rhetoric has gone and we want to make decisions, guided by real facts, on how our security should be guaranteed," he said.

The US move has drawn sharp criticism from Moscow. A top Russian military commander has warned that the Strategic Missile Forces could put these facilities on the list of its targets if the two countries decide to host them.

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2007)

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