America's proposed missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to counter the potential missile threat from Iran and will not affect Russian security, a senior US defence official said.
Henry A Obering, head of the US Defence Department's Missile Defense Agency, said that although Iran posed no long-range threat to Eastern Europe today, the US had to "stay ahead of what we think that threat is."
Washington wanted to install up to 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and an advanced radar station in the Czech Republic, he told reporters at a telephone news conference.
As for Moscow's concern over the plan, Obering said any US interceptors in the region would be physically incapable of catching long-range Russian missiles "from the locations that we've outlined in Eastern Europe," adding that the missile defence system "doesn't pose a technical threat to the Russian ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile) fleet."
If negotiations on the proposed missile defence system with Poland and the Czech Republic failed, the US had other options, Obering said.
On Sunday, the US State Department said the Czech Republic and Poland had agreed to start detailed discussions with Washington on hosting part of a US-built shield against ballistic missiles.
Russia has cast doubt over the US plan, saying Moscow did not believe that US missile defence system was needed in Europe.