First Step Towards A US Shield In Eastern Europe
Despite overwhelming public
opposition to a plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern
Europe, on Tuesday the governments of the United States and the
Czech Republic signed an initial agreement to allow such a shield
to be placed in the former Soviet state.
"This treaty will not only increase security of the Czech
Republic but also of Europe," and beyond, said Czech Foreign
Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who signed the agreement along with
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Associated Press reports the United States needs both the
Czech Republic and Poland to be onboard with the plan, since it
calls for the system's tracking radar to be installed in the Czech
Republic, and the 10 interceptor missiles to be based in Poland.
The shield is intended to defend US allies from a possible
ballistic missile attack from Iran.
Despite Washington's desire to reach an agreement with Poland,
Rice all-but-cancelled plans to visit Warsaw during her trip...
saying the Polish government has all the information it needs to
make an informed decision on the matter.
"We are at a place where these negotiations need to come to a
conclusion," Rice said, adding Poland appeared unlikely to move
forward on the plan anytime soon. "Ballistic missile proliferation
is not an imaginary threat."
Poland is reported to be holding out for millions in military
aid before it will sign off on the plan. The Polish government
soundly rejected a tentative agreement last week, using strong
language the AP says surprised US negotiators. Both sides say talks
Citizens in Eastern Europe fear a US missile defense system on
their soil will make them a target -- not just from Iran, but also
Russia... which has threatened to aim its own missiles at such a
shield, saying the US system would pose a threat to its own
Even if Poland does eventually agree to the plan, several
obstacles remain... making it somewhat unlikely such a missile
shield will ever be built. A number of additional agreements would
need to be reached before the first components could be placed,
including sovereignity agreements with the Czech Republic allowing
US personnel to operate the tracking station.