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Russia warns of "dead end" in US missile talks


MOSCOW (AFP): Russia has said its dispute with the United States over missile defence was near a "dead end" and warned it might have to deploy new rockets in Europe to take out elements of the controversial shield.

"We have not been able to find mutually-acceptable solutions at this point and the situation is practically at a dead end," Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told a televised conference on missile defence issues.

The comments came just hours before Russian generals were to sit down for crunch talks with a special team from Washington ahead of next month's official deployment of the first elements of the new shield.

Russia has argued vehemently against a defence system the United States is deploying to protect its European allies against any attack from enemy states such as Iran that the West fears is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

NATO intends to announce the deployment of the first phase of the system at its conference in Chicago next month.

Officials in Moscow fear the shield may harm its own nuclear deterrence and has warned that it will unleash a massive new armament programme if Washington fails to allay its concerns.

Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov said one option was for Russia to station short-range Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave near Poland in a long-discussed move that has gravely alarmed Eastern European states.

"The deployment of new strike weapons in Russia's south and northwest -- including of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad -- is one of our possible options for destroying the system's European infrastructure," Makarov warned.

Officials backed up their argument by unfurling a projection screen before visiting dignitaries from 50 countries and playing graphics of how NATO missiles could eliminate Russian rockets by the end of the decade.

"A thorough analysis by the defence ministry's research organisations showed that once the third and fourth stages are deployed, the capability to intercept Russian inter-continental ballistic missiles will be real," Makarov said.

"The interceptors deployed in Poland ... will be in the immediate proximity of our territory," Makarov said.

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