Moscow says no nuclear weapons in Belarus to counter U.S. shield

MINSK, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia may review military cooperation with Belarus in response to U.S. missile defense plans in Central Europe, but will not return nuclear weapons to the country, the Russian ambassador to Minsk said Wednesday.

The U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of a missile shield for Europe and North America against possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran.

"When Poland signs a treaty with the United States on the deployment of missile defense elements, then we will be in a position to discuss some additional aspects of military cooperation with Belarus," Ambassador Alexander Surikov said.

He added that an array of counter measures would be devised, but there would be "no return of nuclear weapons to Belarus."

The envoy said, however, that Russia could deploy Iskander missile-defense systems and strategic bombers in Belarus.

Moscow strongly opposes the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield, viewing it as a threat to its national security. Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that if U.S. strategic missile defense elements are deployed near Russia's borders, Moscow would be forced to respond with a "military-technical approach" rather than a diplomatic one.



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