A top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that an emerging nuclear deal with Iran will not affect U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe, despite strong objections from Moscow.
Russia “shouldn’t worry about this,” said Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “They should actually be encouraged that we are helping our allies there potentially defending us against Iran.”
The U.S. has long justified the missile interceptor bases in Romania and Poland as a necessary safeguard against Iran. Now that world powers and Tehran near a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Russia has repeatedly demanded that Washington scrap plans for the defense shield that Moscow sees as a threat to its own security.
Moscow has been increasing pressure on European countries that have offered to host installations for the defense shield, and last month warned Poland and Romania against participating in the U.S.-led program.
“Non-nuclear powers where missile-defense installations are being installed have become the objects of priority response,” Gen. Valery Gerasimov said at a conference last month in Moscow, according to the Wall Street Journal.