Tauscher Calls Russian Comments ¿unfortunate¿

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) dismissed recent comments by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev about redeploying missiles as primarily for his country’s “domestic consumption.”

In a speech Wednesday, Medvedev said that if the United States proceeds with plans to install a ballistic missile interceptor system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia would deploy short-range missiles near Poland.

The election of Barack Obama was recognized around the world as a positive step, said Tauscher, who leads the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. “The only person who didn’t get the memo was President Medvedev. It was an unfortunate tenor and an unfortunate speech. But it is something we can work with.”

Other issues will be more important for both countries, she suggested, such as continuing their efforts at nuclear nonproliferation.

U.S. plans to install the missile defense system have irked the Russians for some time. But Tauscher and administration officials maintain that the missile defense site targets potential missile strikes from Iran – not Russia.

“The issue of the European site is tactically insignificant to the Russians,” Tauscher said. “They’re trying to put a chip out there that is something they’re trying to make important when it isn’t. We’ve made very good-faith efforts to explain that it is not targeted toward Russia but Iran.”

In any case, she noted, the system won’t be built any time soon.

In addition to trimming $246 million from President Bush’s budget request, Poland and the Czech Republic still need to ratify agreements to install the equipment. And the Pentagon still has not begun testing on the interceptor system or completed testing on its precursor, she said.

“We have erected a lot of fences and put out very clearly what our requirements are, Tauscher said.
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