AFP: The 26 NATO allies said Thursday that Europe faces a potential missile threat from Iran as they sought to reassure Russia that a planned US missile shield was not a threat to Moscow. BRUSSELS, April 19, 2007 (AFP) – The 26 NATO allies said Thursday that Europe faces a potential missile threat from Iran as they sought to reassure Russia that a planned US missile shield was not a threat to Moscow.
“There was agreement that there is a threat to Europe of missiles,” NATO chief spokesman James Appathurai told reporters at NATO headquarters after talks on missile defence between senior alliance representatives.
“Many nations called it a growing threat, but certainly agreement that there was a threat,” he said.
“Iran was named as one of the countries that could potentially pose a missile threat to Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community,” he said.
Washington announced in January plans to extend its missile shield into Europe to counter a potential missile attack from “rogue states” like Iran, and possibly North Korea.
It would see a bank of 10 missile interceptors set up in Poland and a radar system to track any attack in the Czech Republic. This would be linked to an advance warning system somewhere in the Caucasus.
The move has ruffled feathers in Russia, which is deeply concerned about its former Cold War foe setting up military shop in its back yard, and Moscow has threatened to take action to counter it.
But Appathurai said the NATO allies agreed that Russia had little to fear.
“There was a sentiment that the missile defence proposals that are currently under discussion cannot pose any threat to Russia’s capabilities nor change the strategic balance in any way,” he said.
However he noted that the 26 countries agreed that “there should be, is and will continue to be full transparency not only within the alliance but also with the Russian federation”.
His remarks came ahead of talks Thursday between NATO members and a Russian delegation, which is expected to outline in detail its objections to the US missile shield.