Washington (AFP) Nov 16, 2005
The United States is discussing with Poland and other countries possible sites in Europe for a missile interceptor base capable of protecting the continent against long-range missile attack, a senior defense official said Wednesday.
The official said the discussions have been underway "below the radar screen" since 2002 but indicated that the US government was now nearing the point of making decisions on whether and how to go forward with such an initiative.
"There have been a handful of countries, Poland is one, but there are several others with whom we've been having discussions with," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in an interview with AFP and another news organization.
The talks with Poland were first disclosed earlier this week by the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, and were not denied by Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.
"We will analyze everything thoroughly and at the appropriate moment say whether it is good or not for Poland," Marcinkiewicz said on the private television station TVN.
Brian Green, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy, acknowledged Wednesday "that the US has been discussing missile defense with our NATO allies."
"These are not new talks, but rather have occurred sporadically over the last three or four years," he said.
The US official declined to identify the other countries with which the United States is discussing the missile site.
"We have the most mature dialogue with Poland because they've expressed continuing interest in the subject," he said. "There are other countries that remain interested in the dialogue on the possible emplacement of interceptors in Europe."
He said the site could be very similar to the US site in Fort Greely, Alaska where half a dozen ground-based missiles are positioned to intercept potential long-range missile attacks from North Korea.
A similar site in central Europe would provide both the United States and Europe protection against long-range missiles fired from the Middle East or North Africa, he said.
"The analysis is fairly preliminary at this point. So there is no final determination, but a single site would probably provide pretty good protection," said the official.
"The geography is such that Central Europe is more suitable for interceptors," he said. "If your allies over time wanted a thicker defense you could go to other places and that would increase or enhance the performance and level of effectiveness."
He cautioned that many issues remain to be worked out, and a US decision to go forward would lead to more intensive consultations with US allies on how it might work.
Russia, which in the past has vehemently opposed the US missile defense system, has been consulted in general terms on US missile defense plans, including consultations with allies on a possible third site.
"Ideally, you're probably looking at the end of the decade for some initial capability," the official said.
An interceptor base also would require large targeting radars. They could either be based on ships or on land, but some would have to be forward deployed to target an incoming missile as early as possible.
"We're still at a consultation stage, but you'd have to make some decisions about where those radars would go. In all likelihood they would not go in the same country as your interceptors," the official said.
A second official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that a principle being followed for choosing a location for the missile site is that it offer protection both to the United States and Europe.
"One of the reasons we're looking at Europe is it has that added benefit: it can help the allies as well," he said.
Among the issues to be worked out is whether command of the missile site would rest exclusively with the United States as part of its missile defense system, or linked to NATO, which has begun funding missile defenses against short and medium range missiles.
Who would finance a long-range interceptor site also remains to be determined, the officials said.
"We would have the consultations with allies but at this point I don't think we would position ourselves in such a way to allow a NATO veto, one country to say no," the official said.
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Italy, ATK And U.S. Navy Sign MoU For AARGM Missile Development
Minneapolis MN (SPX) Nov 16, 2005
U.S. defense contractor Alliant Techsystems has announced that a Memorandum of Agreement between the Italian Ministry of Defense and U.S. Department of Defense has been signed establishing a partnership for the joint development of the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM).
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