US reiterates Europe missile plans despite Iran deal

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu on Monday the U.S. and its allies would continue implementing missiles defense plans in Europe despite the temporary deal to resolveIran’s nuclear dispute.

During his first video teleconference with Shoygu, Hagel said the Iran deal reached by the P5+1 group last month in Geneva “does not eliminate the need for U.S. and European allies to continue implementing missile defense plans in Europe,” Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement.

It was referring to the preliminary deal reached in Geneva in late November by Iran and the P5+1 group, the five UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and United States plus Germany, on resolving the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Hagel and Shoygu discussed a number of issues including missile defense, Syria, cyber security and countering improvised explosive devices at the teleconference, which was agreed to by the two ministers on the margins of the August U.S.- Russia 2+2 meeting.

Hagel stressed that the U.S. and NATO missile defense efforts “pose no threat” to Russia, while urging the both sides to continue consultations on future missile plans in Europe, Woog said.

The two defense chiefs also talked about recent planning efforts to remove chemical weapons from Syria under the auspices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Hagel provided Shoygu with an update on U.S. planning to neutralize the chemical weapons once removed from Syria.

“Secretary Hagel encouraged Russia to stay engaged with the process and continue” assistance to ensure that chemical weapons are removed on schedule,” Woog said.

They agreed to continue holding video teleconferences regularly and as needed if critical issues arise.

Today’s talks between the two defense chiefs came as the U.S. government voiced its strong concerns over Russia’s missile deployment near its western region.

“We’ve shared with Russia the concerns the countries in the neighborhood have…regarding Russia’s deployment of the Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. We’ve urged Moscow to take no steps to destabilize the region,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing Monday.

Russia confirmed Monday that it has deployed its tactical Iskander-M missiles along the borders with NATO countries, but insisting that the deployment did not violate international treaties.

In 2011, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would station Iskander tactic missiles in Kaliningrad and southern Krasnodar region, should the U.S. implement its phased approach to the anti-missile defense program, which Moscow repeatedly warns may damage its ties with Washington.

By Xinhua


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