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BMD Watch: Tauscher will block Euro-bases

by Martin Sieff
Washington (UPI) Nov 13, 2007
The seesaw battle between the Democratic 110th Congress and the Bush administration over whether to build an anti-ballistic missile interceptor base in Poland looks like staggering on for years to come. A key Democrat overseeing key elements of ballistic missile defense planning on Capitol Hill has come out strong against the plan. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., the chair of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Thursday she would block any move to start building the base in Poland, which is intended to house 10 ground-based mid-course interceptors, or GBIs, to guard against any future Iranian or North Korean intermediate- or long-range nuclear missile attack against the United States or Western Europe.

Tauscher told defense reporters Nov. 8 she would block funding for the base until the United States formally ratified diplomatic agreements with Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic for an accompanying advanced array radar facility, according to a Defense News report also on Nov. 8.

Tauscher has played a key role in securing a broad consensus for mainstream BMD programs among the majority Democrats in both houses of Congress. But although the Poland base would employ the same BMD technology that has already been successfully tested against ICBM-type targets, she dismissed it as one of the more speculative "science projects," Defense News said.

Tauscher even claimed the facilities would not be able to protect European nations, but would only be intended to protect the United States, Defense News said.

"Well over 60 percent of the population in Poland and the Czech Republic don't want it," she said.

Dems boost BMD funding for Israel
The Democrats in Congress are still determined to boost Israel's BMD programs. On Nov. 7 a joint committee from the Senate and the House approved $155 million for them -- almost twice the sum that the already supportive Bush administration had originally requested.

The money will boost work on the well-established Arrow anti-ballistic missile, and also David's Sling rocket interception system. That figure is $75 million more than the original White House proposal, Globes Online reported Nov. 8.

The funding will be included in the Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2008. The House and the Senate have both still to approve the measure, but now that the joint committee has finalized its package, that rubber stamp will come almost automatically.

Defense News said the bill was on schedule to be signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush before the Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Md., is projected to start at the end of this month.

That means that the Bush administration, with the bipartisan support of Congress, is going out of its way to ensure that increased funding for Israeli BMD will not be a condition or hostage to any of the diplomatic dealings that may occur at Annapolis.

Globes said $98 million in the package would go to further Arrow development and production, including $37 million for joint production work to be carried out by Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Globes also said another $37 million in the package would go to the David's Sling program to develop short-range missile defenses for distances from 25 to 150 miles against systems like the Russian-built BM-21 Grad, or Katyusha Multiple Launch Rocket Mortars that bombarded Israel during its brief mini-war with Hezbollah in July 2006.

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Proposed missile defense upgrade for Taiwan announced
Washington (AFP) Nov 13, 2007
The Pentagon notified the US Congress Tuesday about a possible sale to Taiwan of an upgrade to its Patriot missile defense systems valued at nearly one billion dollars.

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