Gorbachev: US missile shield aimed at Russia, China, not Iran

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said US anti-missile system in Europe was aimed at Russia and China and not Iran.

Gorbachev: US missile shield aimed at Russia, China, not Iran

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev attacked US plans to site an anti-missile system in Central and Eastern Europe saying that it was aimed at Russia and China and not Iran.

"You believe that (the system) will be used against Iran? No, the whole system is aimed against Russia and China," Gorbachev said in an interview broadcast by Czech public television yesterday. He dismissed sustained US protests that the anti-missile system is aimed exclusively at countering the threat from states such as Iran.

"The US radar is a serious question and the Czech government has been preparing to accept it for a long time without a mandate from its own citizens. You think this is being prepared against Iran? That is total nonsense. Iran does not present any threat. It would be possible to settle things with it in another way if that was really required," Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev's comments echo Moscow's repeated assertions that US plans to site a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland represent a direct threat to Russia. Appearing on the same programme, former Czech president and dissident icon Vaclav Havel defended the US plans and attacked local anti-radar protesters.

"The US for the first time is asking for something from us. Frequently in the past we have made demands on it. They are asking for something small from us and we are prevaricating," Havel said.

Anti-radar militants "are doing something just as dangerous as pacifists before Munich," Havel added, referring to the 1938 agreement between Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, Britain and France under which large parts of former Czechoslovakia were handed over to Germany and later dismantled altogether.

The centre-right Czech government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek hopes to complete bilateral negotiations on the radar system with Washington before a Nato summit in Bucharest next week.

Parliament must approve any deal. The government has refused to hold a referendum on the issue with a succession of polls showing as many as two-thirds of Czechs opposing a foreign base on their territory.

Meanwhile, a Russian delegation is to fly to Washington to resume talks on controversial US missile defence plans, one week after inconclusive efforts to reach a compromise by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Moscow. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak could travel to the US capital today, news agency Interfax cited diplomatic sources as saying.

Agencies

Last Mod: 25 Mart 2008, 11:04
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