U.S. Delivers Plan on Missile Defense

Russia received the United States' compromise proposals on missile defense in written form Wednesday, and officials were studying them, Foreign Ministry officials said, Interfax reported.

Russian officials were expecting the United States to provide the written proposals Tuesday, after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed them with their Russian counterparts in Moscow.

The delay did not appear likely to affect Russia's response to the proposals, which are aimed at easing Russia's strongly voiced concern about U.S. plans for facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet satellites that are now in NATO.

The meeting brought no breakthrough on the contentious issue. Gates had indicated that Russia would receive the proposals in writing late Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Wednesday morning that the United States had yet to provide the documents. But Interfax later quoted Kamynin and another official as saying Russia received the proposals Wednesday and was studying them.

The Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy declined immediate comment.

At Tuesday's talks, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Moscow still opposed the U.S. plans to place interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, saying they would create "risks" for Russia and that the best solution would be to scrap the idea.

The United States says the facilities would provide protection against a potential threat from Iran. Russian officials have said they believe that the real intent is to weaken Russia's nuclear deterrent.

Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov indicated that they wanted to have the proposals in writing. Last year, Lavrov accused the United States of backtracking on missile defense, claiming that written proposals fell short of what Rice and Gates laid out orally in an October meeting.

Gates said Tuesday that the U.S. side had spelled out more clearly some of the proposals it made in the fall.

On Monday, Gates gave as an example the U.S. suggestion that Russia be allowed to monitor the activities in Poland and the Czech Republic. He said the Russians thought this meant they would be limited to monitoring through their diplomatic presence in the Polish and Czech capitals. Gates said that was clarified to mean that the Russians would be permitted a physical -- but likely not continuous -- presence at the missile-defense sites, and that the Russians appeared to regard this more favorably. Russian officials have indicated that they want a permanent monitoring presence and a say in evaluating when a threat from Iran becomes imminent enough to warrant activating the interceptors.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed concerns that the planned facilities could be expanded and reconfigured to target missile launches from Russia. The proposals formulated by Rice and Gates reportedly include a clause obligating the United States not to place interceptors in their silos until an Iranian ballistic missile threat becomes real. They also stipulate the construction of the radar in such a way that it would be incapable of monitoring launches from Russia, Kommersant reported Wednesday.