17 Dec 2013
By End the Lie – Independent News
The US will deploy its missile defense system in Europe despite progress in Iran nuclear talks, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. The news came as Russia confirmed the deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad region, bordering the EU.
The US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has officially informed his Russian counterpart during a video teleconference on Monday that the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action, concluded between Iran and P5+1 member states regarding Tehran’s nuclear program, “does not eliminate the need for US and European allies to continue implementing missile defense plans in Europe,” the Defense Department’s website reported.
Hagel assured his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu, that “NATO missile defense efforts pose no threat to Russia and urged that both sides continue consultations on future missile plans in Europe,” the Pentagon said.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and senior defense staff meet with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu via video (Photo from flickr.com/secdef)
Moscow has been hoping that the US missile system would be withdrawn, since the Iranian deal signed by Tehran and the P5+1 on November 24 in Geneva.
Once the nuclear program deal was signed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed the hope that the US would no longer have a reason to build the long-touted missile defense shield in Europe – if Iran fulfills its obligations.
“If the Iran deal is put into practice, the stated reason for the construction of the defense shield will no longer apply,” Lavrov told journalists in Rome.
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly on December 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “any international problem can and must be solved through political means”.
“Iran’s nuclear program once served as the key reason for deploying missile shields,” Putin said. “And what do we have now? Iran’s nuclear problem is fading, while the missile shield remains in place. Moreover, it is still developing.”
Caught in Iskander’s crosshairs
Just hours ahead of the Moscow-Washington videoconference between the defense ministers, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed a German media report on the deployment of short-range Iskander missiles in the country’s western enclave of Kaliningrad, which is surrounded by NATO member countries.
Moscow said it does not violate international agreements, but said that US ballistic missile defense deployments in Poland are now within the 500-kilometer range of Iskander missiles, which can be armed with a nuclear warhead.