DATELINE: WASHINGTON. Sept 17Russia and the U.S. are creating a three-level system of missile defense cooperation, the levels are: experts, chiefs of general staff and defense ministers, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told journalists during his formal visit to the U.S.
“At the talks [with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] we agreed to create a three-level system of cooperation on the missile defense problem,” the Russian minister said.
“This will be a working group of experts, a working group of the two countries’ chiefs of general staff and the third level, ministerial. Experts will either agree or disagree on something and pass their differences to the level of chiefs of general staff, where they will be discussed again, contact points will be found, and in issues where they are not found, will be passed to the defense minister level. Now we [ministers] will be looking for points of contact, and if we fail too, then these issues will be raised to the presidential level where it will be a political decision,” Serdyukov said.
“This principle repeats the one we used in preparing the new Russian-U.S. Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty. That is the path we are going to follow,” he added.
Russia is keen to participate in creating a reliable missile defense system, he also said.
“We really want to take most active part in this issue. Since missile-defense systems are being deployed in Europe, this should not happen without our participation. We must be directly involved in missile defense building,” Serdyukov said.
Russia and the U.S. still have fundamental differences on the strategic missile defense problem, he said.
“The fundamental difference remains to be them telling us: our missile defense program is not aimed against you, and we are telling them that according to our estimates it is aimed against us,” the Russian defense minister said.
Russia proposed to the U.S. “to start from assessing the degree of missile threats,” he said.
“Let us analyze them [threats] and assess where they are coming from. And only then can it be decided how to close these threats and whether it is necessary to deploy the missile shield where planned, or whether some other ways can be found,” Serdyukov said.