U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said today that remarks by Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, warning the U.S. not to proceed with its missile defense efforts illustrate that the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has left the door open for the Russian government to demand restrictions on U.S. missile defense capabilities. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Russia's public warning to the U.S. to halt our missile defense efforts is proof that opponents of the recently ratified START agreement were absolutely right in predicting that the treaty would undermine our security.
"The Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that the START agreement would have no impact on our missile defense plans. Obviously, the Administration failed to make that clear to Russia before moving forward with the treaty.
"Administration officials must respond to this open threat with an unambiguous statement that the U.S. remains committed to deploying an effective missile defense system regardless of what the Russians do.
"We cannot give the Russian government or any foreign government the power to veto our efforts to defend the American people and our allies."