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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Rebuffs U.S. Offer of Cooperation

Itar-TassSergei Ivanov, right, speaking Thursday with Eduard Rossel in the Sverdlovsk governor's office in Yekaterinburg.
NATO allies in Brussels on Thursday backed Washington's assertions that an extension of U.S. anti-missile defenses to Europe would not threaten Russia, but Moscow appeared to reject a U.S. offer to cooperate on the defense shield.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said NATO welcomed an offer from the United States to cooperate with Russia on missile defenses. U.S. officials have said Washington could work with Moscow to share early warning data, jointly develop technology and hold common exercises.

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia was not interested in working with Washington, however.

"I honestly see no grounds to talk about potential cooperation on strategic missile defense," Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying Thursday in Yekaterinburg.

He cast doubt on the need for such a system and, in an interview published in the Financial Times, Ivanov insisted that Iran would not have the capability to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles in the "foreseeable future."

"Since there aren't and won't be [Iranian] ICBMs, then against whom, against whom, is this system directed? Only against us," he told the Financial Times.

Ivanov said the United States' plans risked provoking a new arms race.

"Whenever the shield is strengthened, the sword is strengthened afterward. This is the eternal competition and there is never going to be a winner," he said.

Ivanov was echoed by Air Force commander Vladimir Mikhailov.

Speaking in the Moscow region, Mikhailov said the proposed U.S. system would have "more political than military significance," Interfax reported.

U.S. officials were briefing NATO allies and Russia in an attempt to allay concerns over the plan to expand strategic missile defenses currently based in Alaska and California by basing interceptor rockets in Poland and radar scanners in the Czech Republic.

"There was a sentiment that the missile-defense proposals ... cannot pose any threat to Russia's capabilities nor change the strategic balance in Europe in any way," Appathurai said.

NATO officials said none of the 26 allies spoke up against the plan during the talks at alliance headquarters.

"There was agreement that there is a threat to Europe from missiles. Many nations called it a growing threat," Appathurai said.

AP, MT