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Polish Prime Minister Backs US Missile Shield As Russians Outline Consequences

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, seen here with Ukrania's Victor Yushchenko.
by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Feb 15, 2007
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Thursday he was in favour, under certain conditions, of Poland housing missiles for a defence shield that Washington wants to set up in central Europe. "The government and I are in favour of an agreement on the missile shield, but, naturally, only under certain conditions," Kaczynski told a press conference.

"There are shortcomings and dangers associated with setting up the missile shield in Poland, but if it is well negotiated, this would increase our security," he said, adding that he would discuss the issue later Thursday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The United States last month said it would soon begin formal talks with the Czech Republic and Poland on deploying a missile defence system in Europe, designed to intercept missile attacks from Iran and North Korea.

The system calls for Interceptor missiles to be deployed in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic by 2012. Polish parliamentary groups held a first meeting about the missile shield on Monday, but failed to "reach absolute unanimity on whether the anti-missile shield would reinforce our security," Kaczynski told reporters after the talks.

The Polish premier also said he saw "no sense" in holding a referendum on the issue.

New Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has also spoken out in favour of the US missile shield, and, like Kaczynski, ruled out putting the issue to a popular vote.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has also supported the plan, insisting it did not target Russia which has strongly objected to having the missiles and radar system stationed on its doorstep.

"The target is not Russia," Klaus told a news conference in Tokyo.

"The installation of the defence system would not be there for the defence of the Czech Republic," he said.

"We are part of the free world, we are part of NATO, we are part of the community of the Western world. So this is our contribution to the whole system of defence and security in this part of the world."

earlier related report
Missile Defense And Its Consequences
by RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 16 - The first, ground-based stage of the U.S. missile defense program has successfully been completed.

There is not much time left before the start of a battle royal for the right to place missile defense components, i.e. weapons, in space.

Fortunately, the success of the proponents of orbital duels is not pre-determined. "We have repeatedly come up with initiatives aimed at preventing the use of weapons in space," said Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in mid-February. "Today I would like to tell you that we have drafted an agreement on the prevention of weapons deployment in space. Very soon it will be made into an official proposal. Let us work on it together." Of course, there is little hope that the Russian initiative will have a serious influence on the missile defense program. Nevertheless, a barrier must be placed across weapons' path to space.

In discussing the danger of anti-missile efforts in their present form, let us start with purely military problems. Does the U.S. system pose a threat to Russia? The answer is unequivocal: it does not.

At present, the U.S. has two deployment areas for extraterrestrial kinetic interceptors: 14 silo-based anti-missile units in Alaska and another two in California. Soon another 10 may be deployed in Poland, with support infrastructure in the form of a ground-based radar in the Czech Republic.

A prominent Russian military expert and former head of the Defense Ministry's Space Research Institute, Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, says, "the creation of one missile defense deployment area in the Czech Republic, Poland and other eastern European countries and the deployment of a dozen of anti-missile units in each does not pose any threat to the Russian strategic containment potential. It would take hundreds of deployment areas and thousands of anti-missile units to damage this potential."

Moreover, despite the impressive characteristics of the U.S. Ground-Based Interceptor - an intercepting height of up to 1,500 km and a directed-fire range of up to 4,000 km, it cannot guarantee the destruction of warheads in the middle of the launch trajectory from Russian deployment sites, which is very inconvenient for the Americans. At the same time, to destroy them at the most convenient point, the beginning of the trajectory, the interceptor must be located within 500 km of the target, which is also impossible geographically.

However, the first two stages of the interceptor are flesh of the flesh of the second and third stages of the Minuteman II ICBM. So it will not take much imagination to deploy Minuteman III's, which have about the same length and maximum diameter as the Minuteman II, instead of the announced conventional antimissiles.

Yet there is a greater danger. Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they will give an "asymmetrical," cheaper, but "extremely effective" answer to the U.S. antimissile defense system. This answer was quite clear. In mid-2006, Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky said, "We have practically found adequate and asymmetrical methods that allow us to say: the existing and prospective ABM will be successfully penetrated by our intercontinental ballistic missiles and their warheads."

This launches a boundless program for the improvement of offensive nuclear weapons. The response will be the appearance of the prospective ABM, this time partially space-deployed.

The result will be a new battlefield with its own "front line" and "fortifications." Given that over 180 countries are involved in space activities and at least 40 of them use information from orbit for some or other defense purposes, it is hard to find an alternative to Putin's Munich proposal and to argue with Vladimir Dvorkin, who said, "The proposed ban on weapons deployment in space should be viewed as an invitation to develop and adopt a countries' code of behavior in space. It could ban all actions aimed at destroying space systems, including weapons deployment."

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board

Source: Agence France-Presse

Source: RIA Novosti

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Why Russia Fears Ballistic Missile Defense
Washington (UPI) Feb 15, 2007
Why does Russia oppose so fiercely the deployment of U.S. ballistic missile defenses in Central Europe to protect NATO allies from any Iranian threat? A lengthy article published Tuesday in the Moscow newspaper Kommersant by Mikhail Barabanov, editor of Arms Export magazine, gives an important insight into Russian thinking.

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