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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Rejects U.S. Missile Shield Offer

The Foreign Ministry has spurned an offer from the United States to participate closely in its planned European anti-missile system, instead urging Washington to drop its proposals and start afresh.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that he was hopeful that Moscow might consider hosting either radars or a data exchange center as it recognized the growing threat from Iran.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Moscow would not entertain any novel ideas until Washington dropped its intention to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

"Only a rejection by the United States of plans to create a ... missile defense system in Europe could lay the groundwork for our fully fledged dialogue on questions of cooperation in reacting to potential missile risks," Nesterenko told reporters late last week.

Moscow has protested against the anti-missile system, which it perceives as a threat to its own security, and has also linked the plans to negotiations on a new treaty to curb strategic nuclear weapons.

Nesterenko added that Moscow still hoped to find a way to reach a compromise with Washington.

U.S. officials have consistently stated that the planned deployment is aimed at preventing potential attacks from countries like Iran. Gates went further at a U.S. Senate hearing on June 9, saying Russia increasingly shared this view.

"The Russians have come back to us and acknowledged that [we] were right in terms of the nearness of the Iranian missile threat," Gates told a Senate appropriations hearing.

"And we've made a number of offers in terms of how to partner, and I think there are still some opportunities -- for example, perhaps putting radars in Russia, having data exchange centers in Russia," Gates said.

Gates said he hoped that there could be progress on this topic when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Moscow from July 6 to 8.

British lawmakers, meanwhile, criticized U.S. missile defense on Sunday as a proposal that might not strengthen Europe's security and could hurt NATO's interests if deployed in the face of Russian opposition.

"We are not convinced that, as they are currently envisaged and under current circumstances, the United States' planned ballistic missile defense (BMD) deployments in the Czech Republic and Poland represent a net gain for European security," said a report by the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, made up of legislators from the main political parties.

"We conclude that if the deployments are carried out in the face of opposition from Russia, this could be highly detrimental to NATO's overall security interests," the report said.

It did not elaborate, but Moscow has threatened to respond to the shield by placing short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad.

If a missile defense system in Europe were to be developed at all, it should be as a joint system between the United States, NATO and Russia, the committee said.