Comeback:US to install missile warning center in Prague

Aktuálně.cz
30. 7. 2010 22:48
USD 2 mil approved by US Congress. Facility will fall under NATO. Opposition social democrats agree

Prague - An anti-ballistic early warning center is to be installed in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, as a part of the new US anti-missile defense project.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced this to media on Friday 30 July 2010, adding that the US Congress has already approved USD 2 mil for the installation of the facility.

Nečas also indicated that the negotiations started already before the legislative election in May 2010.

Read more: START treaty signature in Prague: A breath of fresh air

This is already the second US initiative to install an anti-ballistic facility in the Czech Republic in the recent years. The first plan was to install anti-ballistic missile base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, however the project proposed by the George W. Bush administration faced parliamentary as well as public opposition in both countries whose modern histories were negatively marked by repeated presences of external military forces on their soils.

Eventually, new Obama's administration backed away from the original project, and started to propose a new one, which focuses more on anti-ballistic missiles installed on mobile platforms.

Read more: The US drops plans to base a missile defence system

Prague is supposed to host a center that will collect outputs from sensors monitoring the trajectories of missiles.

NATO project

"It is supposed to be a more-or-less administrative-technical building," Nečas said. The issue of staff has not been resolved yet, however there is a possibility that the center will be manned only by Czechs. "That's why I consider it possible that no new treaty with the US will be needed," he said.

Although the project has been discussed on bilateral basis so far, the facility in Prague and the anti-ballistic system it forms part of shall become a NATO project in the future, Nečas believes.

That's why it is not clear yet who will finance the operation of the facility, as the USD 2 mil secured by the US Congress for years 2011 and 2012 will only be used to install the center.

Some of the NATO facilities are financed by the states they are installed in, others fall under the NATO budget.

Social Democrats agree

Importantly, the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), the Czech Republic's main left-wing party who was a staunch opponent of the previous US anti-missile project, has already declared its support for the new initiative outlined by Nečas. The ČSSD said on Friday 30 July that it fully respects the obligations the Czech Republic has as a NATO member state.

"The Czech Republic is a member of the Alliance. Thus it goes without saying that it will participate in its projects," said Vice Chairman of the ČSSD and the party's foreign policy expert Lubomír Zaorálek.

However, the Social Democrats objected against alleged lack of information from the government.

"I welcome this self-criticism," countered PM Nečas, explaining that the negotiations started during the caretaker government of PM Jan Fisher, whose Minister of Foreign Affairs was Jan Kohout nominated and backed by the Social Democrats.

If the agreement is reached, the installation will start in the years 2011 and 2012.

 

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