MOSCOW (CNN) -- Russian officials on Saturday reiterated their
opposition to the U.S. National Missile Defense System after a
key test of the program by the Pentagon failed overnight.
An interceptor missile launched over the Pacific Ocean, designed
to destroy a dummy warhead, failed to separate from its booster
rocket early Saturday. The test, which cost $100 million, was
the third tryout of the U.S.-proposed $30 billion-plus missile
shield system and the second failure.
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev urged the United States
to reconsider plans to implement the program and told CNN that
Russian defense officials were not surprised the test had failed.
"My opinion, and I've worked in this field for a number
of years, is that this obsession with shielding your territory
is impossible to implement today or anytime in the near future,"
The Russian Defense Ministry maintains that the U.S. missile
shield program would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty
signed by Russia and the United States.
The United States acknowledges that the program would require
revisions to the ABM treaty. Russia has threatened to pull out
of other treaties if the United States proceeds with the program.
Russian parliament member Alexei Arbatov said the test's failure
didn't add up to much, but warned against the political consequences
of proceeding with the program.
"I'm sure that after this launch there will be other launches,"
Arbatov said. "Technically it's possible to intercept several
warheads, which is the official goal of the national ballistic
missile defense program. However, the political repercussions
may outweigh the benefits of such a limited capability."
Russian National Security Advisor Sergei Ivanov refused to comment
on the failed test, but said he would raise the subject in upcoming
talks with his U.S. counterpart, Sandy Berger.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed building
a joint limited-missile defense program with the United States.
Any U.S. unilateral missile program, Putin said, would threaten
the viability of current U.S.-Russian arms treaties.
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