NYT June 3, 2007
Russia Warns U.S. on Missile Defense
Russia's Putin Warns of Retaliatory Steps if U.S. Installs Missile Defense in Europe
By MARIA DANILOVA
The Associated Press MOSCOW
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow could take "retaliatory steps" if Washington proceeds with plans to build a missile defense system for Europe, including possibly aiming nuclear weapons at targets on the continent.
Speaking to foreign reporters days before he travels to Germany for the annual summit with President Bush and the other Group of Eight leaders, Putin assailed the White House plan to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. Washington says the system is needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.
In an interview released Monday, Putin suggested that Russia may respond to the threat by aiming its nuclear weapons at Europe.
"If a part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States appears in Europe and, in the opinion of our military specialists, will threaten us, then we will have to take appropriate steps in response. What kind of steps? We will have to have new targets in Europe," Putin said, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin. These could be targeted with "ballistic or cruise missiles or maybe a completely new system" he said.
On Monday, Iran's top security official called the U.S. plans for the missile defense shield a "joke," saying Tehran's missiles do not have the capability to reach Europe.
"Claims by U.S. officials that installing a missile defense system in Europe is aimed at confronting Iranian missiles and protecting Europe against Iran is the joke of the year, ..full text