U.S. invites Russia to watch NMD tests in December

George Bush's administration has invited Russian government officials to watch the next test of an interceptor missile of the National Missile Defence System, which was preliminarily planned for December 2002, John Bolton, US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, told a press conference on anti-missile defence in London. The press service of the US State Department has distributed the text of Bolton's speech in Washington.

According to Bolton, the joint US-Russian working group for NMD issues gathered for a session in early November to discuss transparency problems and prospects for further cooperation. During the same session, the Russian side was invited to take a look at an advanced Patriot system at the US military base Fort Bliss in Texas and view NMS military facilities under construction in the neighbourhood of the military base Fort Greely.

The under secretary also said the USA and other NATO members were cooperating with Russia in NMD issues in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council. This cooperation is "positive - and it is also the first practical step towards the creation of a joint anti-missile potential for Russia and NATO, which will enable them to protect troops and the critical infrastructure," he said.

According to his account, NATO attaches great importance to NMD issues and will probably add an article about the necessity of "studying the opportunities of defending the troops of the allies and territories and populated centres from the entire spectrum of missile threats" to the text of the final declaration of the North Atlantic Alliance summit in Prague. The declaration will also stipulate "parameters in the framework of which NATO allies will jointly deploy the required potential."

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