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How realistic is NATO-Russia missile shield deal?

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How realistic is NATO-Russia missile shield deal?


What will Saturday’s agreement between NATO and Russia on missile defence mean in practice?

Moscow has agreed to co-operate on a programme to defend against ballistic missile attacks.

NATO says it could mean the two sides conceivably liaise on shooting down an oncoming missile.

President Medvedev said a period of difficult, tense relations had been overcome – referring to the strained ties following Russia’s military intervention in Georgia in 2008.

But, he went on, Moscow’s participation in the missile shield project had to be equal.

“I would say, even more, our participation can only be on a partnership level,” said the Russian leader. “Either we have a fully-fledged partnership with an exchange of information and decision-making, or we do not participate at all.”

The warning was perhaps designed to reassure sceptics in the military and parliament back home.

The defence shield is expected to take 10 years to develop. NATO believes it is essential to protect Europe from ballistic missile attacks, in view of the growing threat of technology and weapons of mass destruction getting into the wrong hands.

President Sarkozy said on Saturday that although NATO named no names, “France calls a spade a spade: the missile threat today comes from Iran”.

Specifically mentioning Tehran in NATO’s plan is thought to have brought objections from Turkey, while Russia is believed to doubt Iran’s ability to develop long-range missiles over the next decade.

Tehran denies western claims that it wants to develop nuclear weapons.

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