Missile Defence Reversal No Concession to Russia: Gates

In an article published in New York Times on Sunday, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that President Barack Obama’s proposed shift in country’s missile-defense plans in Europe is no concession to Russia.

It should be noted that Obama announced on Thursday that Washington was reneging on its previous plans to employ elements of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

In the article, Gates said: “Those who say we are scrapping missile defense in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting what we are doing. This shift has even been distorted as some sort of concession to Russia, which has fiercely opposed the old plan. Russia’s attitude and possible reaction played no part in my recommendation to the president on this issue.”

“This proposal is, simply put, a better way forward… I believe this is a very pragmatic proposal,” Gates said, adding that the new plan was a hedge against a missile threat from Iran, not from Russia.

On Friday, Gates had pointed out that two major developments had resulted in the revision of the American missile defence strategy in Europe: One, the rising threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles rather than intercontinental ballistic missiles; two, the significant advances in the US missile defense capabilities in recent years

“I probably am more familiar with the risks of over-reliance on intelligence than anybody because I’ve seen how often it’s been wrong,” Gates told media persons. “If the intelligence is wrong and the Iranians develop a capability sooner than the intelligence is saying, this architecture gives us a better chance of being able to cope with it.”

The Bush administration sought to deploy an omni-directional radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland as defense against potential strikes from Iran. Russia has consistently opposed the plans as a threat to its security and the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

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