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Russians not reassured by U.S. missile plan

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By Reuters
Sunday, March 17, 2013, 7:33 p.m.

MOSCOW — A change in U.S. plans for an anti-missile shield in Europe will not prompt Russia to drop its opposition to the system, a senior lawmaker allied with President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Friday that the Pentagon would add 14 anti-missile interceptors in Alaska, among others, because North Korea had threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States.

To free up funds, American officials said they were forgoing development of an interceptor that would have been deployed in central Europe and has been a focus of Russia's concern that the shield would be interfere with Moscow.

Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, said the change would not dispel Moscow's concerns about the missile shield the United States and NATO were to develop.

“It would be premature to say that something has fundamentally changed,” said Pushkov, a member of the ruling party.

“The United States is readjusting the missile defense system due to financial and technology issues — issues not related to the Russian position,” he said.

A Russian diplomatic source said Moscow was looking into Hagel's announcement and would comment soon.

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