- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

MOSCOW, Jan. 15 (UPI) — Russia will develop a missile defense shield, including a space-based defense system, along the lines of one being developed by the United States, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday.

"We will definitely develop theater missile defense systems, as well as space defenses," Ivanov told reporters during a tour of missile defense systems in the Moscow region.

He said Russia "is formally free of the restrictions placed on the development of strategic missile defense systems" after the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty last year.

"We will proceed based on common sense, technical possibilities and the state of our economy," Ivanov said, adding Russia "has technologies in the missile defense sphere that no one else in the world has."

Ivanov said the development plan had been activated "more than a year ago."

Russia opposed the demise of the ABM treaty, a move President Vladimir Putin called a "mistake," and has since suggested cooperation between Russian and U.S. specialists on jointly developing a new system.

However, Ivanov said "elements" of the U.S. missile defense program posed "certain questions" that were of concern to Russia's national security.

Ivanov's remarks Wednesday are the first official confirmation by Moscow that Russia would proceed with development of its own advanced space-based missile defense shield with possible deployment of interceptor missiles to mirror future U.S. developments and deployment of new U.S. missiles in Alaska.



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