US needs 5-7 interceptors for Russian ICBM: Expert

Moscow, April 3 : The US will need between five and seven Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) to intercept one Russian Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, a Russian military expert has said.

"From my contacts with the director of the (US Department of Defense's) Missile Defense Agency, I have learned that the Americans will need five to seven interceptors to engage one Topol-M missile," said retired Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, former chief of staff at Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (1994-1996).

He did not elaborate on the nature of his contacts with the MDA head or when he had received the information.

The US has deployed 30 GBIs, Yesin said - "26 in Alaska and four in California", adding that the effectiveness of the US counter-missiles is "somewhat limited".

He also said missile defence negotiations with the US will produce no positive results, and that development in that area will continue.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in March that plans for the final stage of Central European-based missile shields are to be scrapped and that interceptors will instead be placed in Alaska.

The US change to the programme has come in response to increasingly confrontational rhetoric from North Korea, which said Tuesday that it would restart its nuclear reactor.

The US says that the positioning of interceptors in Alaska and an additional radar station in Japan are designed to provide further coverage from any possible missiles launched from North Korea, but Russia worries that any missile defence programme undermines the integrity of its own military strategy.

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said two weeks ago that security officials from Russia and the US will meet in the coming months to discuss the impact of recent developments.

Antonov said talks could be held at a security conference in Moscow due to take place May 23-24.

Russia says it is pressing for "legally binding agreements guaranteeing that US missile defence elements are not aimed against Russia's strategic nuclear forces".

--IANS (Posted on 03-04-2013)

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