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Russia expresses alarm at US arms plans

Written by: Staff

Moscow, June 7 : US plans to develop some of its strategic weapons could be destabilising and dangerous since they could lower the threshold of military response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today.

Lavrov, speaking on national security to the lower house of parliament, also denied foreign reports that Russian military power was in decline.

''Such findings try to fit reality to what people want to think,'' he said, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Lavrov, echoing concerns showed by President Vladimir Putin last month, expressed alarm at US plans to develop low-powered nuclear charges and equip strategic long-range missiles with non-nuclear warheads.

''Such plans could have a destabilising effect, lower the threshold for use of weapons and have destructive consequences for nuclear non-proliferation,'' he said in televised comments.

Lavrov's remarks reflected the cool relations with Washington since US Vice President Dick Cheney on May 4 sharply attacked Russia's record on democracy and accused it of using its energy exports to blackmail its neighbours.

Kremlin officials say that Pentagon plans to put non-nuclear warheads on submarine-launched Trident missiles are dangerous because it would be impossible to tell in flight what sort of warhead they were carrying.

Lavrov, who repeated Russia's strong opposition to former Soviet Ukraine and Georgia joining the US-led NATO alliance, expressed misgivings about US plans to station parts of its anti-missile defence system in NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic.

The United States was moving missiles to eastern Europe on the grounds of defence against Iranian missiles, he said. ''There is a danger these planned anti-missile defence silos could be used for secretly stationing ballistic missile weapons.'' Lavrov said talks were going on with the United States to clarify Washington's intentions. ''In parallel, we are also expressing our concern and will try to get due consideration for our interests,'' he said.


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