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U.S., Czech, Polish Figures See Agreement Soon On European Missile Defense Sites

By | March 31, 2008

      The Czech Republic and Poland likely will agree soon to host the European installation of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, according to senior American, Czech and Polish officials.

      Those predictions came from John C. Rood, assistant U.S. secretary of state; Petr Kolar, the Czech ambassador to the United States; and Wojciech Flera, charge d’affaires of the Polish Embassy.

      "The main agreement is almost done," Kolar reported, speaking to a Missile Defense Agency-American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Washington, D.C. "Probably an agreement is going to be signed very soon," he predicted, despite "strong opposition" in his country to the European GMD system.

      Rood said he is "relatively optimistic we can" obtain approvals from the Czechs and Poles.

      Missile defense is "indispensable," and Poles wish to form "a partnership" with the United States.

      While the GMD plan is controversial, "the best ideas are least popular at the outset," Flera said. "We hope that progress will continue" to completion of an agreement to host the site.

      Kolar said it is important to see the GMD system as defensive. "We want to defend ourselves," he said. "We don’t want to attack anyone." Further, he said, possessing missile defense capabilities can prevent aggression, by making a hostile state hesitant to launch a missile attack for fear it will be thwarted by a GMD shield.

      While there may be no sign of enemy missiles flying toward Europe just now, Kolar said that "even Noah built his ark before the flood." And the hope of building a missile defense system, he said, is that it never will be used.

      There are some irrationalities in the European debate over the GMD proposal, he observed. The "strong opposition" often comes from people who agree that they wish to protect their democratic nations from attack, and their freedoms as well. But then, when they are asked whether they wish to see the U.S. GMD system installed to protect them, "they say, ‘No.’"

      Observing that the GMD plan can be very unpopular in Europe, Kolar joked that since he has been supporting the plan strongly, "I hope I will not have to ask for asylum in the United States."

      He concluded, however, that "we are going to build the radar in our country," adding that "we are trying to succeed [in that], and I believe we will."

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