The U.S. plans to deploy missile defense components in Eastern Europe have become a contentious issue with a key security and economic partner, Russia.

Last month, as Chairman of the U.S. Senate-Russia Interparliamentary Council, I lead a Congressional Delegation visit to Russia where we met with key Russian legislators and top government officials to discuss mutually important security and economic issues. In nearly every meeting, the Russians raised concerns about the deployment of U.S. missile defense components in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Our Delegation’s message to the Russians was that it was our goal to develop a defensive system to protect the United States and our allies from a missile attack from Iran and other rogue nations. With the clear understanding of the importance of the matter to our friends in Russia, I conveyed to the current U.S. Administration that it would be strategically beneficial to work with Russia on the deployment of the system before it became an irresolvable conflict.

Much has to happen before the U.S. can break ground on the systems in question. Both Poland and the Czech Republic have to enact official agreements with the United States to authorize deployment. Other political and strategic security matters also must be coordinated.

The missile defense system can be an integral part of our national defense systems. Deploying missile defenses in Eastern Europe can and will protect our allies from a first-strike from a nation like Iran that is building a nuclear program with the clear intent to develop nuclear weapons. Working together with Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and our other allies, we can find a way to deploy an effective and defensive system that will enhance our national security.