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10 Jul, 2009 15:07

Anti-missile defence plans in Eastern Europe ditched – newspaper

The US has ditched its anti-missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to a conservative right-wing Polish newspaper.

The Nasz Dziennik daily claims Washington has made a U-turn after recent talks between Russian and US presidents, and is now considering two alternative locations close to Iran and in Southern Europe.

Citing an anonymous source in Washington, the paper says American and Russian experts will meet again later this month before a final decision is made.

The US has made no official statement so far, while the Polish Foreign Ministry says it hasn’t been contacted by the US and is not aware of any changes to the plans.

Speaking after the G8 Summit in Italy, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said that if the US builds the radar-bases Russia may once again consider placing its own missile systems in Kaliningrad, and Russia’s general position on US missile defense in Central Europe has not changed.

“We are ready to participate in the construction of a global missile defense by providing both our intellectual input and our radars. We are glad that there is a readiness in the US to revise its decision,” Medvedev said.

Meanwhile Russian military analysts quoted by k2kapital.com view the abandoning of radar-bases in Poland and Czech Republic as very unlikely.

According to independent military analyst Pavel Fengengauer, the move could “cost Obama dear in the political sense.”

“The interception of nuclear missiles usually happens in outer space. So should the base be placed too close to Iran, the interception would need to be done on the acceleration stage, which involves entirely different technology,” adds Daily magazine e-zine’s military expert Aleksandr Golz.

Defence from Iran, not Russia

This is not the first time that Polish media has rushed to bury the AMD projects in Poland and the Czech Republic. Back in November 2008, an article claimed that money shortages following the global crisis will prevent the US from completing the radar bases and that then President-elect Obama would abandon the project.

In reality, however, Obama has abandoned nothing. Washington has always stressed the shield was to counter a possible threat from Iran, but Moscow has repeatedly argued it threatens its national security.

In mid-June, the US Defense Secretary said he didn’t rule out that the anti-missile radars might be built in Russia. However, Russia’s Defence Ministry said it hadn’t received any offers regarding the issue.

Missile Defense Agency head Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly told Reuters on Thursday that the more Iran and North Korea show their nuclear ambitions the more common the position of the US and Russia will be on the anti-missile defence issue.