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US Renews Call On Russia For Missile Defense Cooperation

The United States has renewed its call on Russia to cooperate with the U.S.-led European missile defense program.

In an Op-Ed published in Russia's Kommersant Newspaper on Wednesday, US Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense Ellen Tauscher and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon expressed hope that their "Russian colleagues see missile defense cooperation as an opportunity that they should seize sooner rather than later."

Moscow and Washington have rarely agreed on the issue of missile defense. But it doesn't have to be that way anymore, they wrote.

The US officials reminded Moscow that cooperation between the two countries in other areas such as implementing the New START Treaty, moving materials to and from Afghanistan and stopping drug traffickers and terrorists is producing positive results.

Cooperation on missile defense would be a game changer and the next step in expanding U.S.-Russia cooperation, says the article. It would give us the chance to build a true strategic partnership and help us move away from "Mutually Assured Destruction toward Mutually Assured Stability," it adds.

Tauscher and Creedon repeated the often stated assurance by Washington that NATO missile defense and the United States' European Phased Adaptive Approach contribution are directed at regional threats—outside of Europe—and not at Russia.

"Moreover, sharing data, working together on missile defense exercises, and conducting joint analyses would give Russia the opportunity to contribute to what we're actually doing. Russia would be inside the missile defense tent, rather than outside. And that would provide a much better understanding of our capabilities, including the fact that these defenses will not undermine Russia's large and sophisticated nuclear deterrent."

United States made it clear that it will not negotiate a legally binding agreement that would limit U.S. missile defense capabilities. "And we will not cede the protection of our NATO allies to Russia, just as Russia would not rely on NATO to defend Saint Petersburg or any other Russian city. NATO must defend NATO and Russia must defend Russia, but by working together the defenses for both can be stronger."

Washington says it is ready to reach a political agreement enabling practical cooperation.

The United States called on Moscow to be courageous "to move away from old habits of confrontation," and guaranteed that "Russia will lose nothing by joining us now." US offered Russia the option to terminate cooperation at any time it chooses.

US urged Russia to decide before the next deployment milestones that are due in 2015, 2018 and 2020.

The US officials clarified that Washington has "no intent, desire, or capability to undermine strategic stability."

The Op-Ed concludes by noting that "the United States' objective is to create lasting cooperation and move beyond old and outdated thinking. This is too important an opportunity to let it pass by."

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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