Plans to develop a ballistic defence system in Europe are a top priority for the United States and they remain in effect despite budget constraints and uncertainties, US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said in an interview to Mediafax. She underlined that the US is trying to develop the most efficient antimissile defence system and Romania is of great help in the process.
Gottemoeller added that American authorities in charge of the project remain in close contact with Romanian ones in order to inform them about the latest developments with the US budget. In what regards the Deveselu air base, where the elements of the shield deployed to Romania will be located, construction works will begin soon, she said.
The Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance also reiterated that the missile shield projects is not a threat to Russia in anyway, being developed in order to counter possible threats from the Middle East region. Gottemoeller said the US is inviting Russia to cooperate on the project, because this is the best way the country can understand that the missile shield is not a threat.
As for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent announcement that Moscow would deploy Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad region as a countermeasure to the American project, Gottemoeller underlined that the move must be analysed from a political point of view, not a military one. When asked whether US analyses show there is a possibility that Russia actually launches the Iskander missiles, Gottemoeller voiced doubt that this could happen.
The assistant secretary of state also said the US refused to give Russia written guarantees for the project, as demanded by Moscow, because it does not want any limitations or constraints on the system. Gottemoeller insisted that the US focuses on cooperation and the development of joint projects on missile defence, underlining that from Washington’s point of view, “this is the best guarantee.”