Moscow is concerned by the United States' refusal to provide legally binding guarantees that its European missile defense system will not be directed against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.
"The Americans are insisting on the importance of launching practical cooperation without any preconditions," he said, adding that Russia "cannot start cooperation on specific projects without legal guarantees that a future system will not be directed against our security interests."
Moscow reserves the right to pull out of the new START Treaty, he warned.
"The new START Treaty may become hostage to the U.S. approach," the official said.
"The qualitative and quantitative buildup of the U.S. missile defense system, which will jeopardize Russia's strategic nuclear capability, can be regarded as an exceptional event under Article 14 of the said Treaty whereby Russia has the right to withdraw from this agreement," Ryabkov said.
Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system.
Russia is opposed to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.
MOSCOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti)