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U.S. firm on missile defense but may change European plans


WASHINGTON, June 17 (RIA Novosti) - The United States military has reiterated its commitment to missile defenses, citing a growing threat from North Korea and Iran, but suggested plans for a European site may change.

"The risks and dangers from missile proliferation are growing problems," Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn told a Senate committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday.

"The president has made clear that we will move forward with missile defenses. They're affordable, proven and responsive to the threat," the Pentagon's second in command said, adding however that plans for missile defenses in Central Europe were only "one option."

"No final decisions have been made regarding missile defense in Europe. However, the U.S. approach to missile defense in Europe will be to seek cooperation with international partners - to include Russia - in order to reduce the threat from Iran," Lynn said in prepared remarks.

Recent suggestions by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Russian facilities could be part of the missile defense system were rejected by Russia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said last week that there could be no partnership "in building facilities that are essentially designed to counter Russia's strategic deterrence forces."

The previous U.S. administration of President George Bush agreed plans with Warsaw and Prague to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013, saying the defenses were necessary to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran.

Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the balance of power in Europe.

U.S. President Barack Obama has indicated he could alter or put on hold the plans for the third site for Washington's global missile defense system, which he said needed more analysis.

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