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NATO Could Use US Missiles For South East Theater Defense

The Islamic Republic with its SHAHAB-3 and SHAHAB-3A rockets could theoretically attack targets in NATO member Turkey or the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member.

US shield should be part of European defence system: Polish PM
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said here Friday he wants Polish elements of a proposed US anti-missile shield to be part of a wider European and NATO defence system. "It is very important for us, and I speak for the Poles, that the question of defence systems including anti-missile systems would be in the final perspective a part of the complex NATO, European and Euro-Atlantic defence system," Tusk said in a joint press conference with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico. Slovakia's leftist premier, who has opposed US ambitions to widen its anti-missile defence shield to former Soviet satellites Poland and the Czech Republic, said he had not changed his opinion on the issue. Tusk said he did not try to change Fico's stance on the controversial shield, which Russia strongly opposes and considers a grave threat to its national security. "I do not see any reason to convince anybody about what the Americans should install in Poland and how. Every country will decide on its own according to its own citizens' opinions," he said. Tusk, recently installed as Poland's premier following October elections, was making his first official visit to neighbouring Slovakia since taking office. He and his ministers have moved away from former premier Lech Kaczynski's undiluted support for the US proposal. Tusk has called for increased security guarantees from Washington in exchange for hosting elements of the shield. Washington wants to install 10 interceptor missiles in Poland by 2012, as well as associated radar stations in the Czech Republic, to ward off possible missile attacks by so-called rogue states, notably Iran. During Tusk's visit, the two premiers also discussed road transport links and energy cooperation. The Polish premier was later due to meet with Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic and parliament speaker Pavol Paska.
by Stefan Nicola
Berlin (UPI) Jan 17, 2008
Taking part in U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe may improve trans-Atlantic relations and help NATO overcome its identity crisis, says a German military expert.

The year 2008 will see many decisions, not only in the United States. It's also a year in which NATO is expected to decide the future of its missile defense program.

The alliance for years has been planning a shield against short-range missiles, and in late April will decide whether to discard those plans, push them forward or integrate them into the defense shield the United States is planning to build in Eastern Europe.

While Washington already has interceptor units stationed in Alaska, the Americans by 2013 want to have 10 interceptor missile sites in Poland and a radar unit in the Czech Republic up and running to ward off potential attacks by so-called rogue states, namely Iran. The Islamic Republic with its SHAHAB-3 and SHAHAB-3A rockets could theoretically attack targets in NATO member Turkey or the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member.

So far there has been no agreement with the two European states, whose governments have demanded economic and security benefits from the United States for having to ignore the substantial opposition to the system put forward by their citizens.

The Czechs have lobbied to integrate the system into a NATO framework, and a German expert says that given NATO's current state, that may be a smart thing to do.

The trans-Atlantic alliance took a beating when Washington and a few allies rushed into the Iraq war; NATO members are reluctant to dispatch its troops for the NATO Response Forces; finally, the mission in Afghanistan is at a critical watershed point.

"In such a situation, a joint project to protect NATO territory would be invaluable," Alexander Bitter, a military expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a Berlin-based think tank, wrote in a recent study. "A missile defense shield would strongly contribute to make NATO more coherent, and would act as an important instrument to put the trans-Atlantic common interests back in the focus of the alliance."

It would also make sense because the Americans are offering to take over most of the financial burden; NATO, Bitter argues, could tag along by purchasing from the United States some 15 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems to protect the NATO territory the U.S. system wouldn't cover, namely southeastern Europe and Turkey.

The American system relies on expensive satellite technology and interceptor units that use kinetic energy to destroy incoming missiles in the mid-course phase, traveling at more than 16,000 miles per hour, at an altitude of several hundred miles.

Not participating in the U.S. system would double or even triple the financial investments NATO would have to make, Bitter argues, because the alliance would have to build up capacities from scratch.

Of course there are some more political hurdles to clear before the system can be integrated in a NATO framework.

The Russians have heavily protested the system, which they say is a direct threat against Russia and the start of a new arms race in Europe. Washington has denied that but has since failed to convince Moscow that the system poses no threat but is aimed at protecting U.S. allies in Europe from nuclear attacks.

Experts agree that Russia's concerns aren't about missile defense. Moscow is irritated by NATO's influence in the Balkans and its recent eastward expansion. That's why the Kremlin is determined to stop more former Soviet states from "defecting" to NATO, and the trans-Atlantic alliance and the United States from expanding their military presence in Russia's back yard.

Europe may not be interested in having a major conflict with Russia, which it sees as a key stabilizing factor in the Balkans and other former Soviet countries. If NATO also builds up its missile defense system, it would therefore be in Europe's interest that the alliance "finds a solution that Russia can also accept," Bitter argues.

The missile system, granted it can effectively protect states against nuclear attacks, could even reduce the importance of nuclear weapons as a political power tool and thus help non-proliferation efforts, Bitter argues, and gets backing from an in-house colleague.

"Missile defense systems would then pull back the effectiveness of deterrence back to the level before the acquisition of rockets and nuclear weapons," Oliver Thraenert, the senior security expert at the SWP, wrote in a 2005 study.

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Israel test-fires ballistic missile after Iran warning
Jerusalem (AFP) Jan 17, 2008
Israel successfully test-fired a long-range ballistic missile on Thursday, a senior official told AFP, days after warning "all options" were open to prevent archfoe Iran from obtaining atomic weapons.

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