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U.S. official: Russia may be testing Obama on arms issues
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09:00, December 18, 2008

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Russia may be taking a tougher stance against the planned missile shield of the United States to test President-elect Barack Obama and his administration, a senior State Department official said here on Wednesday.

Sharing his impression from the talks in Moscow on Monday, John Rood, acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, told reporters that he believes Moscow is waiting to assess the Obama administration before it adjusts its position on disputed arms issues.

"My assessment is that the Russians intend to test the mettle of the new administration and the new president," he said. "I think missile defense and other subjects will be among those that the Russians intend to determine what the new administration's posture will be."

"The future will show how the new administration chooses to answer that challenge," the senior State Department official said.

The United States is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield. Related treaty or agreement were signed separately this summer.

Russia strongly opposes the plan, saying it poses a threat to its security.

Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy a short-range missile system in its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania in response to the U.S. missile defense plans.

But the Russian leader also said that Moscow could cancel its deployment of the Iskander missiles if the Obama administration scrapped the anti-missile shield plans.


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