- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

From combined dispatches
MOSCOW Russia has begun a plan to build 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 yesterday.
"We will definitely develop theater missile-defense systems, as well as space defenses," Mr. Ivanov told reporters during a tour of missile-defense systems in the Moscow region.
The missile-shield development plan was activated "more than a year ago," Mr. Ivanov said.
He said Russia was "formally free of the restrictions placed on the development of strategic missile-defense systems" after the United States 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," Mr. Ivanov said, adding that Russia "has technologies in the missile-defense sphere that no one else in the world has."
Russia opposed the demise of the ABM Treaty. President Vladimir Putin called the move a "mistake," and later suggested cooperation between Russian and U.S. specialists on developing a joint system.
Mr. Ivanov said elements of the U.S. missile-defense program posed "certain questions" that were of concern to Russia's national security.
Mr. Ivanov's remarks yesterday were Moscow's first official confirmation that Russia would proceed with development of its own advanced space-based missile defense shield with potential deployment of interceptor missiles to mirror U.S. developments for deployment of new missiles in Alaska.
Analysts said Mr. Ivanov, through strong-arm tactics, was trying to convince Washington that Russia had or would obtain the technology to shoot down incoming missiles at great distances, and that its interceptors should be incorporated into U.S. plans.
"It seems that Ivanov is talking about the experimental S-400 and the S-500s," which are still on the draft board and may not become operational for another seven to 10 years, said Ivan Safranchuk of Moscow's Center for Defense Information.
"Russia wants to prove to the Americans that missiles can be defended with conventional weapons" that are updated in the coming years, Mr. Safranchuk told Agence France-Presse.
The British government said yesterday it intended to grant the United States permission to incorporate an air base in northern England into the proposed missile-defense network, the Associated Press reported.
Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon told the House of Commons that he had reached a "preliminary conclusion" that Britain should allow the United States to upgrade and use the Fylingdales base in North Yorkshire.
Mr. Hoon said the upgrade of Fylingdales would be "an invaluable extra insurance" but did not commit Britain to any deeper involvement in missile defense. Such a decision could be made later, he said.
Fylingdales has operated since 1963 as a ballistic-missile early warning radar system.


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