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CFE Treaty on brink of collapse, Iran threat overblown-Russia gen.

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The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe is about to collapse, a senior Russian military official said Thursday. "The CFE Treaty is on the brink of collapse, but Russia did not want that," said Army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces.
BRUSSELS, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe is about to collapse, a senior Russian military official said Thursday.

"The CFE Treaty is on the brink of collapse, but Russia did not want that," said Army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces.

Russia's representative at the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council meeting, Yury Baluyevsky, has come to Brussels to explain Russia's recent statements on the CFE and the U.S. plans to its missile defense system in Central Europe.

"We hope our concerns will be heard," Baluyevsky said, describing the CFE Treaty as the cornerstone of European security.

"Russia has fulfilled its commitments on military withdrawal from the South Caucasus," he said, "There is no link between Russia's military pullout from Georgia and Transdnestr and the ratification of this treaty by NATO member states."

He also said Iran's missile threat has been exaggerated and cannot serve to justify the deployment of elements of U.S. missile defense in Europe.

"The threat posed by Iran's missile potential is overrated and unrealistic, and may not serve as grounds for the deployment of American missile defense assets in Europe," he said.

Gen. Baluyevsky said Iran is unlikely to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles in the foreseeable future since it lacks essential technology.

"Iran has no sponsors, and I am sure it will have none," he said.

The Russian chief of staff also called for a thorough analysis of the real reasons behind the U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Central Europe.

"The NATO-Russia Council may be a good platform for this dialogue," he said.

He said the missile defense system in ineffective and can ensure neither U.S. nor European security.

"Before guaranteeing European security, the Pentagon should prove that it can protect the United States," he said.

The CFE Treaty was signed in 1990 by the then-22 NATO members and the now defunct Warsaw Pact to enhance arms control in Europe, and amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities.

NATO countries have not ratified the new version, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases from Georgia and Moldova under its Istanbul commitments. Moscow says there is no link between the two documents, and has argued that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic states have not joined the CFE at all, despite preliminary agreement that they would do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also suggested that Russia might suspend its obligations under CFE if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in its implementation. His statement came following U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Central Europe, as well as to finance nongovernmental organizations and opposition parties in Russia in a bid to improve the country's democratic record. Moscow regards the plans as a security threat and meddling in its internal affairs.

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