A new phase of the arms race could begin if NATO and Russia fail to agree on the joint European missile defence programme, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned in his annual speech to Parliament.

“In the next ten years, either we reach agreement on missile defence and create a full joint cooperation mechanism, or, if we don’t go, a new phase of the arms race will begin,” he said.

Experts from both sides will meet by the end of 2010 to consider linking NATO’s and Russia’s separate systems to provide a shield against incoming missiles from rogue nations.

A report on the developments on the proposal, which has been endorsed by Russia, will be submitted to the defence ministers by July 2011.