Russia’s top military officer warned Thursday that Moscow would strike NATO missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe before they are ready for action, if the U.S. pushes ahead with deployment.
“A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile-defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATOofficials.
Gen. Makarov made the threat amid an apparent stalemate in talks between U.S. and Russian negotiators over the missile-defense system, part of President Obama’s policy to “reset” relations with Moscow. The threat also elicited shock and derision from Western missile-defense analysts.
“The threat is always there, so we closely monitor the nuclear program developments of many countries,” Army General Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff, told RT television.
“The analysis that we conducted together with the Americans confirms that, yes, there is a probability that the threat exists. And we agreed that it is necessary to create a missile defense system,” Makarov said.
Russia has been preparing for the prospect of an Israeli or U.S. air strike on Iran in 2012.
Officials said the Kremlin has ordered the military to draft options for a Russian response to any foreign attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They said the Defense Ministry has established a facility to monitor Teheran, an ally and trading partner of Moscow.