Russia sees 'no concession' in US missile defence move

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia said on Monday it saw "no concession" in the US decision to abandon the final phase of its missile shield for Europe while deploying new interceptors against a possible attack from North Korea.

"This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Kommersant business daily. "Our objections remain."

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said last Friday that 14 more interceptors would be stationed in Alaska - increasing by almost half the 30 already deployed along the western coastline. The aim is to have them in place by 2017.

North Korea has threatened to unleash a second Korean War - backed by nuclear weapons - in response to UN sanctions imposed after its third atomic test in February and joint South Korea-US military manoeuvres.

The US decision means it will not go through with the fourth phase of its missile defence deployments in Europe under which interceptors trained on Iran were due to have been placed in Poland.

Mr Hagel said the decision was part of an overall restructuring of how Washington viewed missile defence and international threats.

Russia has long argued that the European missile shield was aimed against its own nuclear deterrent and has held up negotiations on other disarmament agreements as a result.

Mr Ryabkov said that Russia believed that extra US interceptors in Alaska "significantly expand US capabilities in the area of missile defence." "We are not experiencing any euphoria about this," he added.

Kommersant said that Mr Ryabkov was due to meet Tuesday in Geneva with US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller to discuss the issue further.