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Finland concerned over U.S. missile defense plans

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A senior member of the Finnish parliament said Wednesday the placement of elements of the U.S. missile shield in Central Europe could threaten Finland's security.
HELSINKI, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - A senior member of the Finnish parliament said Wednesday the placement of elements of the U.S. missile shield in Central Europe could threaten Finland's security.

In January, the United States approached Poland and the Czech Republic, former Central European Soviet allies and now members of the European Union and NATO, with a request to host elements of the missile defense system.

Washington plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and to deploy a missile defense base in Poland to counter the alleged ballistic missile threat from Iran or North Korea.

Tarja Cronberg, chairperson of the Green League party, said in case of a possible war between Iran and the United States the elements of a U.S. missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic will become primary targets for Iranian missile strikes.

"Because we are bound by security obligations with the European Union, we will have to provide assistance [to other EU members] and would be drawn into a conflict," she said on the eve of parliamentary elections in Finland, scheduled for March 18.

Crongberg said she was surprised that both the Finnish government and the EU leadership have been downplaying these risks so far.

"The EU should have convinced Poland and the Czech republic to reject the U.S. proposal," she said.

Poland formally agreed last Friday to start detailed missile shield talks with the U.S., and the Czech Republic has also reaffirmed its willingness to allow the U.S. to place elements of its missile shield on its territory.

Moscow strongly opposes the deployment of a missile shield in its former backyard in Central Europe, describing the plans as a threat to its national security.

Russia's top military officials earlier issued strong warnings to the U.S. regarding its missile shield plans by stating that Moscow might unilaterally pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and resume production of intermediate- and short-range missiles in the future.

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