U.S. risks space arms race: Russia
MUNICH, Germany -- U.S. plans to deploy a national anti-missile system would lead to a new arms race in outer space, a top Russian security official has warned.
Sergei Ivanov, secretary of Russia's security council, told defence delegates meeting in Munich that the plan would undermine world stability, and he offered Washington talks on substantial arms cuts if it abandoned the scheme.
"The destruction of the 1972 ABM Treaty will result in the annihilation of the whole structure of strategic stability and create prerequisites for a new arms race including one in outer space," Ivanov said in a speech.
He was referring to the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union, which would be breached by a new missile system.
"Restraining the so-called rogue nations -- to use the American terminology -- may be carried out more effectively from the point of view of both expense and consequences by means of common political effort," Ivanov said.
"The situation in North Korea is the obvious example because the situation a year ago seemed much worse than today."
U.S. pushing ahead with missile shield plan
He was speaking a day after new U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed American plans to implement a new missile defence system -- despite objections from its European allies, Russia and other nations.
American officials have cited the threat of missile attacks from nations such as North Korea as a reason to deploy a defensive missile system.
The Russian security council secretary held out the lure of substantial arms control cuts if Washington forgoes its missile defence plans and preserves the ABM Treaty limiting Russia and the United States to a single defensive missile site each.
Since the 1970s, only Russia has maintained such a site, which it deploys around Moscow.
"If the ABM Treaty is maintained, Russia is ready for radical cuts with the United States of strategic offensive weapons to as low as 1,500 and even lower than this level," Ivanov told the conference on international security, which brought together top defence and foreign policy officials.
"We are also ready for an immediate start to official talks with the United States on SALT 3."
American officials say the ABM treaty is an antiquated relic no longer essential in the post-Cold War world, an argument that Russia rejects.
"The cornerstone of strategic stability is the 1972 ABM Treaty," Ivanov said. "The treaty created the possibility for predictability in the nuclear sphere and progress on the way towards nuclear disarmament not only for the USSR and the United States, but also the whole world."
The first top official of the government of President George W. Bush to visit Europe and address the touchy issue, Rumsfeld on Saturday reiterated that the United States did intend to build a national missile defence (NMD) against limited attack from such states as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
"A system of defence need not be perfect. But the American people must not be left completely defenceless," Rumsfeld said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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