The United States is offering assurances that a new missile-defense plan that would involve the deployment of interceptor missiles in Romania is not aimed against Russia but against a potential threat from Iran. Russia has not yet made any official comment on the plan, announced on February 4.
Russia previously opposed a U.S. plan, which has
since been abandoned by Washington, to place missile-defense facilities in the
Czech Republic and Poland.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stressed that the revised U.S. missile-shield plan involving the deployment of medium-range ballistic missile interceptors in Romania is not directed at Russia but against what he described as an "emerging" missile threat from Iran.
"It is precisely what we have always said, which is we are going to protect our interests and those of our allies," Crowley said. "We see this emerging threat coming, as we've said."
Crowley added that Washington's "revised approach is in fact tailored to address the emerging threat coming to the region from Iran."
He added: "Regarding Russia, as we have made clear over and over again, this is not a capability that's directed at Russia."
Earlier, Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that Romania's top defense body had approved a proposal to participate in the system, which is expected to be operational by 2015.
He added that the participation of Romania, a NATO and European Union member on the Black Sea, was not meant to threaten Russia.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Romania in October to present to leaders the revamped U.S. missile-shield plan.
compiled from agency reports
Iran's top military official is quoted as saying the Patriot missiles can be made ineffective through simple tactics
senior Iranian military official is warning Gulf Arab nations not to buy U.S.
missile defense systems, saying they can easily be thwarted.
The chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, was quoted Thursday by Iranian state news as saying the Patriot missiles can be made ineffective through simple tactics.
Simorgh satellite carrier
Iran Fires Satellite Carrier Into Space
Iran on Tuesday test-fired the Kavoshgar 3 satellite carrier, sending its third
explorer - with living organisms onboard - into space.
Iran has accused the United States of trying to create divisions between Tehran and its Arab neighbors by deploying U.S. missile defense systems in Gulf nations.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended U.S. efforts to bolster the defense capabilities of regional allies, as Iran defies international calls to curb its nuclear program.
Clinton said the U.S. must remain aware of Iran's refusal to meet its obligations under the United Nations Security Council and the U.N. nuclear agency.
She spoke after meeting in Washington with Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
The Bahraini minister said the defense measures are not aimed at provoking Iran, but to protect international interests in a region critical to the shipment of oil.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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