- (AFP) -- President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed his
position that Russia can resort to preemptive military strikes because
the policy is also practiced by the United States.
- "If the principle of preventive use of force continues
to develop in international practice, then Russia reserves the right to
act in an analogous manner to defend its national interests," Putin
said in an interview whose transcript was released Tuesday.
- "All nuclear powers are improving their nuclear
potential and Russia will do the same," Putin said in an interview
with Italian journalists ahead of this week's visit to Rome, according
- "But our nuclear policy, as opposed, say, to that
of the Soviet Union, is not directed at anyone, it is directed only at
strengthening our security," Putin said.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in October said
that Russia would re-evaluate its nuclear stance should NATO remain a military
alliance with an "offensive" doctrine.
- But later, speaking in the United States, he assured
NATO countries that Moscow was not seeking to adopt a preemptive nuclear
- "Russia still regards nuclear weapons as a means
of political deterrence. We do not envisage a scenario or a situation where
we would use such weapons first," said Ivanov on October 9.
- Putin in late October said that Russia still planned
to rely on its massive nuclear arsenal for decades to come despite signing
a broad disarmament agreement with the United States last year.
- He said Russia has a "significant amount" of
SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missiles that had never previously deployed
-- and were thus not part of disarmament negotiations -- and which remain
mothballed for emergency use.
- He said they would be the perfect weapon for breaking
through a potential missile defense shield that has been heavily backed
by US President George W. Bush.
- "These rockets could easily break through any missile
shield for decades to come," Putin warned.
- He said the SS-19 could function for up to 25 more years
and gradually replace decommissioned missiles.
- "In the meantime, we will begin producing new strategic
weapons that will guarantee are strategic nuclear missile deterrence system,"
- Putin was Tuesday due to leave Moscow for Italy for a
summit with the European Union on Thursday.
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