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    Japan against joining U.S. global missile shield - Baluyevsky

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    Japan will not join the U.S. global missile defense network in the near future despite close cooperation with the U.S. on boosting its own missile defenses, Russia's chief of the General Staff said Friday.

    MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Japan will not join the U.S. global missile defense network in the near future despite close cooperation with the U.S. on boosting its own missile defenses, Russia's chief of the General Staff said Friday.

    "Japan is not planning to integrate its national missile shield into the U.S. global missile network," Gen. Yury Baluyevsky said after talks with his Japanese counterpart Adm. Takashi Saito in Moscow.

    Under a December 2004 missile defense cooperation arrangement with the U.S., Japan intends to build by 2011 a national missile-defense network comprising sea- and land-based components.

    Japan's determination to boost its missile defenses was strengthened after North Korea conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in July 2006, and an underground nuclear test explosion three months later.

    Japan's Cabinet endorsed in December 2007 a review of emergency missile defense rules giving Self-Defense Forces (SDF) the discretion to fire missile interceptors without the premier's go ahead.

    The government also authorized the use of U.S. SM-3 interceptor missiles as part of Japan's two-layer missile shield.

    The U.S. sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles are designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in mid-trajectory at altitudes up to 300 kilometers (about 190 miles), while land-based U.S. Patriot PAC-3 systems, which will be deployed at four ground-to-air missile units, are expected to shoot down missiles before they hit the ground.

    During a test-launch on December 17 last year from the Japanese Aegis-equipped destroyer Kongou, an SM-3 interceptor shot down a simulated target over the Pacific near Hawaii.

    However, Japan is opposed to the use of space-based elements in a global missile shield which Washington is proposing.

    U.S. plans to deploy elements of the missile shield in Central Europe are expected to cost $1.6 billion over the next five years. The program will later be expanded to include sea-based missiles and missile tracking systems in space.

    Washington insists that space-based systems would provide anti-missile protection independent of geographic location, strategic warning or permission to deploy bases, and would make it possible to intercept ballistic missiles in mid-trajectory.

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