The deployment of strategic missile defense systems in various parts of the world will alter the international security configuration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
“Statements to the effect that the build-up of global missile defense capabilities will not undermine the foundations of strategic stability are not enough,” Lavrov told the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. “The issue is far too serious.”
He reiterated Russia’s position on the issue, saying “solid legal guarantees are needed that the missile defense potential will measure up to the declared goals and not violate global and regional balances.”
“This is relevant both for Europe and the Asia-Pacific region where the missile defense factor has started affecting the strategic situation.”
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said earlier in the day that no progress had been made in Russia-U.S. talks on the projected deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Europe. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last week he expected Russia and NATO to agree on missile defense at the alliance’s summit in Chicago due on May 20-21, 2012.
Russia has maintained a strong opposition to the deployment of missile-defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a threat to its own nuclear deterrent.
NATO says it needs the shield, which will be eventually deployed in the Mediterranean, Poland, Romania and Turkey, to counter the potential threat of missile attacks from the Middle East, particularly Iran.
Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.