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CNN World

After test fails, Russia again urges U.S. to drop missile shield proposal

July 8, 2000

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," Sergeyev said.

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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CNN World, July 8, 2000

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