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Czech Republic Signs Documents Providing European Missile Defense Radar Site

By | July 14, 2008

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      Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed documents needed for the Czech Republic to provide a radar site for the planned European Missile Defense (EMD) system.

      The U.S. defensive system, a variant of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system in Alaska and California, also envisions silos in the ground filled with 10 interceptors that would be located in Poland.

      But the Polish deal has been delayed by Poles pressing for vast amounts of military aid from the United States, leading some Pentagon officials to consider siting the interceptors in Lithuania instead.

      Poland, however, now is attempting to get those talks back on track.

      After the Czech signing ceremony, Russia reacted negatively. As it has previously, Russia engaged in saber-rattling, threatening a response with military/technical action if the radar is installed in the Czech Republic.

      President Bush failed to make progress on the issue in a meeting with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev. (Please see separate story in this issue.)

      Clearly, the Czechs aren’t fazed by the Russian bluster.

      "Freedom is our core value," said Czech Prime Minster Mirek Topolanek. "Freedom has powerful enemies; one has to have the mindset to defend freedom."

      Bush and other Americans have said, repeatedly, that Iran is a threat, developing ever-longer-range missiles, and producing nuclear materials that could be fashioned into atomic weapons. Europe and the United States need a defense able to defeat any nuclear-tipped missiles that Iran might fire at them. NATO, as well, has endorsed forming the EMD system.

      Topolanek agreed that a defensive shield is required.

      "Missile defense is the state of the art technology and it is the response to high technology including [weapons of mass destruction] in the hands of terrorists and enemies of our freedom," he said. "Missile defense defends our freedom against technology."

      Ricki Ellison, president and founder of the U.S.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, hailed the signing as a major step forward toward establishing the EMD system.

      The signing "marks a significant international achievement for the global coverage against all ranges of ballistic missiles that threaten mankind," Ellison stated. "This … NATO-endorsed, bi-lateral agreement between the United States and the Czech Republic validates peace through technology and devalues those that proliferate ballistic missiles, specifically those in the country of Iran."

      Ellison outlined some of the points in the documents.

      "The agreement includes 24 areas of cooperation between [the Czech Republic and United States], but its focus is on the large X-band radar that will be moved from a small community of 4,000 people in the Kwajalein Islands of the South Pacific, where it has been in use for nine years by the [U.S.] military," Ellison noted.

      Some opponents of the EMD system have said the radar might cause health problems in those living near it.

      But Ellison noted that most of the time, the radar won’t be operating.

      "The radar will be moved to a remote forested area located on a high hill in the Brdy region, southwest of Prague," Ellison continued. "The [radar] when deployed will be turned on rarely for testing and if cued by Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites or other sensors that a ballistic missile is heading towards and over Europe from the Middle East.

      "The … radar tracks and discriminates very small objects in space and sends that information to an integrated command and control center as well as to the actual current and future missile defense interceptors that are placed in and around the European region including both land and sea based interceptors."

      In other words, the radar wouldn’t operate non-stop.

      Ellison also noted that the EMD radar would be installed near a site where the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations operated a radar site and six Scud missiles with nuclear warheads, during the 1960s. The key difference, of course, is that the EMD will be a defensive system, protecting populations against attack, not an offensive system threatening nuclear war.

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