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Oct 07. A European missile defence system could make a US pre-emptive strike against Iran much less likely, NATO parliamentarians heard today (Saturday).

In an address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s (NATO PA’s) Science and Technology and Defence and Security Committees, Robert Bell, Senior Vice-President of SAIC, reiterated the view that placing anti-missile sites in Eastern Europe could prevent a war with Iran by building an effective deterrent.

Mr Bell, a former official in the Clinton administration, quoted a recent interview with the current Assistant Secretary of State John Rood in which he stressed that a European missile defence system would both make it “less tempting for Iran to launch a first strike and could also dissuade the US from believing it had no alternative to a pre-emptive strike of its own.”

In addition, Mr Bell stressed that the missile defence proposal, strongly opposed by Russia which sees it as a fundamental change to its current defence structure, provided a “Third Way” between a nuclear-armed Iran and a pre-emptive strike. He said this would reinforce the diplomatic approach by buying more time for negotiations to succeed.

Mr Bell also told the meeting in Reykjavik in Iceland where the NATO PA, which brings together some 248 delegates from 26 NATO to member states, is currently holdings its annual session, that other NATO countries would be able to “bolt on” to the missile defence shield for a fraction of the cost of deploying its own defence shield to protect itself from Iranian short – and medium-range missile threats.

General Vladimir Nikishin of the Russian Federation, also addressed the NATO PA joint committee meeting and took a very divergent view. He told the parliamentarians that Europe, Russia and the United States were not targets for missile attacks from Iran.

He pointed out that Iran’s current missiles were unable to travel the required distances and when they could following improvements to launching techniques they were unable to carry the load required for a nuclear warhead.
“American forecasts of Iranian achievements in the field of ballistic missiles development are extremely excessive,” he stressed, adding: that the status and prospective of Iranian missile potential “are not so persuasive as to the need to deploy global MD sites in Europe.”

He added that this meant that US plans were dangerous in that they had left to the perception that the missile defence plans are directed against Russia and that that illusion of US invulnerability thereby subsequently created could lead to inadequate actions.

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