The US drops plans to base a missile defence system

17. 9. 2009
High costs, good relations with Russia and Iran's long-range missile less advanced than originally predicted are the main reasons, experts say

Prague - The U.S. administration shelved the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic for good.

Czech PM Jan Fischer has confirmed Wednesday that US President Barack Obama called him up late last night to let him know Washington has decided to back away from the US defense system in Central Europe.

PM Fischer also said that the U.S. representatives would explain the decision on the missile defense shield later on Thursday. President Obama is expected to give a statement shortly.

"We have been aware of the possibility the the American allies could reconsider their intention to build an anti-missile shield in Central Europe," said Fischer in an interview for BBC World Service.

"We expect that the United States will continue in cooperating with the Czech Republic in concluding the relevant agreements on mutual research and development and military colaboration," he added.

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The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the US now considers Iran's long-range missile plans as less advanced than originally predicted. High costs and good relations with Russia have played a role, too, according to experts.

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"The US will base its decision on a determination that Iran's long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental US and major European capitals, according to current and former US officials," reported the Wall Street Journal.

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According to experts, it is a major US foreign policy shift.

The US administration under George Bush signed a deal with the Czech Republic in July 2008. As soon as Barack Obama came to power, he ordered a thorough revision of the plan.

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Russia that strongly opposed the plan now welcomed the US decision. Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that the US move "was a breakthrough" for future US-Russian relations.

The Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) under whose government the accord was signed expressed their concerns over the US administration backing away from the plan, while the Communist Party is in favor of the move.

Mixed responses

"We have known this in Central Europe for the last 100 years - we  are not backed by a strong ally," former PM and head of centre-right Civic Democratic Party  Mirek Topolánek. His government signed the accord.
"It's like having a decomposing corpse in your flat and then the undertaker comes and takes it away," Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told BBC. 
"Barack Obama took in consideration about 70 percent of Czechs that opposed the radar base, unlike Mirek Topolánek's government that ignored the voices of the Czechs," said Communists' leader Vojtěch Filip.
"It fits the picture of the current U.S. administration thathas beens trying to solve problems with Iran. It's a kind of accommodating gesture," said former minister Karel Schwarzenberg who signed the deal with Condoleezza Rice last year. 
"It just shows we have been proven right in what we have been saying for the past three years. There is no need for a radar base in Central Europe," said Jiří Paroubek, leader of the former opposition party Social Democrats.

autor: CzechNews | 17. 9. 2009


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