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Russia says U.S. may go beyond European missile plans


MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is not ruling out that Washington may go further than its missile defense plans for Central Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

"We have not yet received a clear answer, a denial at least, to our question whether the U.S. plans to deploy a fourth and fifth missile defense site," Lavrov said upon his return from Bahrain.

Lavrov added that the Russian Foreign Ministry had also not heard anything about U.S. plans to cut its nuclear potential by 80%.

"We have not heard anything about our partners' proposal to reduce nuclear arsenals by 80%.

We plan, as soon as the United States establishes its disarmament team, to hold a new round of talks on a mechanism to replace the START-1 treaty which expires this December," the top Russian diplomat said.

He assured reporters that Russia would proceed from the need to maintain strategic parity and ensure strategic stability which he said primarily depended on agreements between Russia and U.S.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he may put on hold his predecessor's plans to deploy 10 missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, which he said needed more analysis.

Washington has moved to find a compromise on the missile shield dispute with Moscow, which opposes the plans, and has sought closer cooperation with Russia to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. The missile threat from Iran has been cited as a reason for deploying the new bases in Central Europe.

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