Czech Republic, U.S. Agree to Missile Defense Radar Installation
Washington th- Advanced tracking radar technology -th key to protecting central European nations against long-range ballistic missiles launched from trouble spots th- will be installed in the Czech Republic by 2012. The stationing of the radar there is critical to the unfolding of a larger, but limited missile defense plan for Europe that will require the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington –- Advanced tracking radar technology -– key to protecting central European nations against long-range ballistic missiles launched from trouble spots –- will be installed in the Czech Republic by 2012. The stationing of the radar there is critical to the unfolding of a larger, but limited missile defense plan for Europe that will require the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.
The United States and the Czech Republic issued a communiqué about the radar installation during the 59th NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, on April 3. The communiqué says that the Czech-based advanced radar installation will be linked to other missile defense facilities in Europe and the United States.
Besides contributing to a stronger U.S.-Czech bilateral relationship, this missile defense installation and cooperation are viewed as making “a substantial contribution to NATO’s collective capability to counter existing and future threats” and will be integral to a broader future alliance missile defense architecture, according to the communiqué.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said on many occasions that the alliance concurs that the proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a threat and that its allied security “must be indivisible” in the face of that.
To that end, NATO’s 26 nations issued a document April 3 that acknowledged the increasing ballistic missile threat to allied military forces, populations and territory. They authorized the North Atlantic Council to examine how a future missile defense architecture -– linked to the U.S.-led system –- could protect any remaining areas of Europe that are uncovered and to bring recommendations to next year’s summit for review.
A senior U.S. administration official said the emphasis is now on ensuring that the U.S. and NATO missile defense tracks “keep pace.” He pointed to considerable progress, including NATO’s current embrace of missile defense as a strategic concept, its endorsement of the U.S. architecture and its pursuit of a complementary role –- all occurring in the past 14 months.
President Bush says that one of the most important steps that can be taken now is to construct new missile defense capabilities to protect citizens against ballistic missile attack. While in Romania attending his final NATO Summit, he said the need to defend European capitals is urgent since there is no current defense against the emerging threat from Iran.
The United States has been negotiating with the Czech Republic and Poland to deploy elements of a missile defense system that would provide protection against a possible limited long-range Iranian attack. At the same time, the United States is looking to NATO to develop allied capabilities to address a possible short- or medium-range missile attack from the Middle East.
Bush told NATO leaders that Iran is seeking technology that could be used to produce nuclear weapons and has ballistic missiles of ever greater range that could deliver them to major capitals. He cited Iranian officials who already have indicated that they are developing missiles with a range sufficient to reach Romania while Israel and Turkey are already in range of existing Iranian missiles.
Bush pointed to U.S. intelligence assessments that suggest Iran could test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching all of Europe and the United States if it continues to receive foreign technical assistance.
ALLIED CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES SOUGHT WITH RUSSIA
Russia has been offered the possibility of bringing its radar facilities in Azerbaijan and southern Russia into the broader missile defense equation. Bush said these sites “could be included as part of a wider threat monitoring system that could lead to an unprecedented level of strategic cooperation between Russia and the NATO alliance.”
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said at a briefing April 3 that good progress was made with the Russians on missile defense at the 2008 Summit. Bush had an opportunity to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bucharest, but will continue missile defense talks and address other issues of mutual concern during a post-summit follow-up trip to Sochi, Russia, beginning April 5. He and other top U.S. government officials have repeatedly reassured Russia’s leadership that missile defense capabilities destined for Europe are in no way being sought as a defense against Russia.
NATO and Russia have been exploring the missile defense rubric for some time in an effort to promote transparency and confidence-building. The United States has invited Moscow to join the cooperative effort, which would provide protection for Russia, too, and Bush said he will try again to convince Putin and President-elect Dmitriy Medvedev that missile defenses are needed to keep rogue regimes in the Middle East from holding “us all hostage.”
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