German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a joint press conference in Berlin, May 4, 2012
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that the planned NATO missile shield system in Europe is not a threat to Russia's security and has invited Moscow to participate in the project.
"Our missile defense system is not technically designed to threaten Russia in any way and we have provided that information to the Russians. Politically, we don't have any intention to attack Russia," Rasmussen said in Berlin on Friday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The best way for the Russians to see with their own eyes that our system is not directed against them would be to cooperate actively," he added.
The NATO chief also stated that the US-led Western military alliance will continue its dialogue with Russia, saying NATO is still hopeful that it can reach a deal with Russia on the alliance's planned anti-missile shield.
Rasmussen also described Russia’s threat of a pre-emptive strike on the European missile defense system as “unjustified.”
Rasmussen made the remarks in response to Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's statement on May 3, in which he said that negotiations with the United States over the proposed anti-missile system had reached a "dead end."
Speaking at the Moscow Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) conference on Thursday, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Nikolay Makarov said Moscow would retain the right to a preemptive strike on NATO’S European missile shield system if Washington refuses to engage in constructive dialogue on the issue.
Russia previously threatened to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region on the Baltic Sea coast following Washington’s rejection of Moscow’s own proposal to develop a joint European missile shield system.
Russia has repeatedly objected to the establishment of the NATO missile shield system, saying Moscow is the main target of missile shield system since it possesses a significant number of nuclear weapons.
However, the head of the NATO delegation to the ABM conference, Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Wershbow, said that Russia’s arguments are unconvincing and the NATO missile shield system would “never target Russia.”