A U.S. missile shield planned for Poland and the Czech Republic targets Russia, rather than any potential threat from Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an article published Thursday.
"A simple military analysis proves that a U.S. base in Europe for global anti-missile defense has no other, and for many years will have no other, target but Russian missiles," Lavrov wrote in Poland’s leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
"All objective experts understand that Iran’s missiles pose no threat to Europe and even less to the United States," wrote Lavrov, who arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday for talks with Polish leaders.
The visit is the first to an EU country by a Russian leader since Russia’s war with Georgia in August.
Poland and the United States signed a deal on August 14 to base part of a U.S. missile shield in Poland, in the face of Moscow’s vehement opposition and mounting East-West tensions over Georgia.
Washington plans to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighboring Czech Republic by 2011-2013 to complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain.
The United States insists the shield, endorsed by NATO this year, is to fend off potential missile attacks by "rogue states" like Iran and is not aimed at Russia.
The Kremlin, however, regards it as a grave security threat and on Wednesday threatened to aim its own missiles at the planned U.S. missile shield sites in Europe.
Despite the threat, Lavrov said Moscow "is leaving the door open to serious negotiations if the United States and Poland are really interested in guaranteeing that the European anti-missile base will not be aimed against Russia," he added.
"We are prepared to examine concrete proposals, but there must be real guarantees, not superficial political gestures," Lavrov said.
Washington and Warsaw have offered Russia the possibility of inspecting the anti-missile base due to be installed in northern Poland, not far from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Moscow is demanding a permanent presence for Russian inspectors at the planned U.S. missile shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The idea has been rejected by Poland and the Czech Republic which broke free from the Soviet sphere of influence in the 1989, joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.