Russia Rejects US Claims about ‘Threat’ of Iran’s Missiles
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Russia dismissed US allegations that Iran’s missile program poses a threat to Europe as baseless.
“It is unclear on what basis allegations are being made about the threat of the Iranian missile program. For whom?” head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov, said.
"If it is the United States, it is not serious then because the range of Iranian missiles does not exceed two thousand kilometers. Even American forces deployed in Europe are at a greater distance from Iran,” he added.
Ulyanov made the remarks in a statement released on Wednesday as the US prepared to activate its missile system in Europe on Thursday.
US officials said the activation of the Aegis missile systems is aimed at countering what they described as Iranian missile threat.
The Russian diplomat said the settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue following a July 2015 agreement has obviated the need for deployment of US missile systems in Europe.
US and NATO officials will declare the missile system at a remote air base in Deveselu, Romania, operational on Thursday after years of planning and billions of dollars in investment.
The US will also start construction on a second site in Poland on Friday that is due to be ready in 2018, giving NATO a permanent, round-the-clock readiness in addition to radars and ships already in the Mediterranean.
For years, Washington has futilely attempted to assuage Russian concerns that the systems could be used against Moscow.
On Wednesday, Robert Bell, a NATO-based envoy of US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, repeated those claims, saying "the system is not aimed against Russia."
"The Iranians are increasing their capabilities and we have to be ahead of that," he told reporters in Bucharest.
The Foreign Ministry in Moscow dismissed those allegations, calling the US move a mistake and a treaty violation that directly affected Russia's national security.
Ulyanov said the activation of US missile systems in Romania and Poland are in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987.
“This decision is harmful and mistaken, because it is capable of upsetting strategic stability,” he stated.
He said Russia's interests “are being affected in a direct way by this,” adding that the MK-41 launch system of the Americans could also be used to fire cruise missiles, not just air missiles.
The Kremlin says the missile system's real aim is to neutralize Moscow's nuclear arsenal long enough for the US to make a first strike on Russia in the event of war.
The system relies on radars to detect a ballistic missile launch into space. Tracking sensors then measure the rocket's trajectory and intercept and destroy it in space, before it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.
The interceptors can be fired from ships or ground sites.
The Russian ambassador to Denmark warned a year ago that Danish warships would become targets for Russian nuclear missiles if Denmark joined the missile system project by installing radars on its vessels.
Denmark is upgrading at least one frigate to house a ballistic missile sensor.
Turkey already hosts a US radar and the Netherlands has equipped ships with radars. The US also has four ships in Spain as part of the defenses, while all NATO nations are contributing funding.
"Ballistic missile defense sites could pose threats to the stability and strategic assets of the Russian Federation," Russia's ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, told Reuters last month.
Russia is reinforcing its western and southern flanks with three new divisions in response to the readying of the systems in Romania, Poland and the Baltics.
On Tuesday, a report said Russia is preparing to start test-firing a highly powerful nuclear missile, which is said to be capable of destroying an entire country in seconds.
The RS-28 Sarmat missile, dubbed Satan 2, will replace Soviet-era R-36M missiles, Russia’s Zvezda TV channel reported.
The report said the missile has been designed with stealth technology, which enables it to be fired at a target without being detected by radar systems.