U.S. ‘Will’ Deploy Missiles in Poland as Talks Begin With Russia
U.S. is to go ahead with deploying interceptor missiles in Poland even if it scraps plans to set up anti-missile defense apparatuses in Eastern Europe, says Warsaw.
“Regardless of the decision (on missile defense), President Obama has said other cooperation with Poland, including strategic projects such as modernization of our armed forces, will definitely be continued,” said Deputy Polish Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski speaking to Reuters.
The cooperation is expected to include deployment of, at least, one battery of U.S. Patriot missiles, he added. “We expect the Patriot battery to be deployed on Polish soil by the end of 2009, as initially agreed with the Americans.”
The deployment, however, would fall greatly short of the bilateral understanding which allows the U.S. to install ten of the batteries as part of a global missile defense shield.
The U.S. plans for the shield, devised under former president George W. Bush, use potential missile threats ‘from Iran and North Korea’ as a pretext for positioning the interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar the Czech Republic.
They, however, have provoked the strongest criticism from Russia which denounces the move as a security threat and has warned to respond by installing potent Iskander-M missile systems in Kaliningrad, an exclave near Poland.
The American project has proven a moot point in the apparent post-Bush inclination in both Kremlin and the White House towards better Russo-American ties.
Warsaw, meanwhile, is trying to remove the financial obstacles to obtaining the missiles itself. “At present, we cannot afford to buy Patriot batteries because of budget constraints but by 2013 we will consider starting to acquire that kind of theatre missile defense system for our armed forces,” Komorowski added.
The Patriot battery, armed with about 100 missiles, is to be temporarily based on the Polish soil until 2012 when it would be permanently based, Komorowski said
The official continued “we undoubtedly expect a clear ‘yes’ from the American side, it is just a matter of time… because there is no reason to think the threat from Iran has grown smaller since last year.”
Warsaw and Washington are to agree on related legal terms by the end of July.
Russia and the U.S. have been holding the first of three days of talks in Moscow on a new treaty aimed at reducing their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
Senior diplomats need to negotiate a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start I) of 1991, which expires on 5 December.
The main sticking points are limits on the number of warheads and whether the treaty will cover bombers and missiles.
Also on the agenda is Moscow’s concern over U.S. missile defence shield plans.
Analysts say a successful outcome would be a boost for relations before a visit to Moscow in July by U.S. President Barack Obama. >>>