U.S. counters Russia's missile shield concerns
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. missile defence system Washington wants to base in the Czech Republic and Poland is designed to counter missile threats from the Middle East, not Russia, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
Responding to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry that warned of a possible military response to the U.S. shield, the Pentagon also said the United States has made robust offers to collaborate with Moscow on the system.
"We have been very clear about what the missile defence system in Europe is for. It is not designed to counter a threat from Russia. We've been very clear about the emerging threat in the Middle East that we think could threaten not only the United States but our allies in Europe," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters.
"We've made several very robust offers to the Russians in terms of how we could collaborate and how we are willing to have as much transparency as possible with respect to this missile defence system, what its design is and what its intent is," he added.
The United States and the Czech Republic signed an agreement earlier on Tuesday to place tracking radar southwest of Prague as part of a system to protect against the perceived threat of missile attack from countries including Iran.
Washington has not yet sealed a corresponding pact with Poland to deploy 10 interceptor rockets that would be guided by the Czech radar site.
The Russian ministry later said Moscow would be "forced to react not with diplomatic methods but with military-technical methods" if the system's deployment begins "close to our borders."
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kristin Roberts)
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