Russia wants 'red button' rights for U.S. missile defense system

April 10, 2011 - 0:0

A top Kremlin official has told the United States Russia wants “red button” rights to a new U.S.-backed missile defense system for Europe, a move that would allow it to influence the shield's day-to-day operational use.

Sergey Ivanov, Russia's deputy prime minister, made the controversial demand during a visit to the United States where he met with top officials including Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State.
“We insist on only one thing,” he said of the nascent U.S.-backed missile defence shield. “That we are an equal part of it.”
“In practical terms, that means that our office will sit for example in Brussels and agree on a red-button push to launch an interceptor missile, regardless of whether the missile is launched from Poland, Russia or the UK.”
Russia has been pushing hard for a prominent role in the new missile shield for months but with little noticeable success as Washington and its allies remain deeply skeptical of Russia's reliability as a political and military partner.
The United States has said the new shield is needed to protect Europe and itself from long-range missile attacks from rogue states. But Russia has argued that the new system will blunt its own nuclear deterrent. It has threatened to beef up its own nuclear forces if it is excluded or granted only a junior role in the project.
Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, tried to pacify the Kremlin last month by offering to share information about the new system and by offering to build a joint data centre.
But Russian government officials have since made it clear that such a compromise does not go far enough.
President Barack Obama diluted Washington's original plans to build a missile defense shield around facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic in the face of fierce Russian opposition.
(Source: The Daily Telegrapgh)