15 June 2011
Czech Republic withdraws from US missile defense system
Russia Today


Members and sympathizers of 'Humanist Movement' hold banners as they participate in a protest at Wenceslaw's square in Prague on April 5, 2009 against the project to install a US anti-missile radar station on the second day of US President Barack Obama's official visit

The Czech Republic will not host elements of the controversial antimissile shield. The country did not like the minor role which it was to play in the US defense plan.

Czech Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said after meeting with US Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn that his country wanted to participate in the antimissile system, but “not in this way.”

He added that the Czech Republic is in talks with the US over another possible collaboration on the system.

Prague and Washington signed an agreement on hosting an advanced radar and tracking system in 2008 amid criticism from Russia. The plan was met with public resistance, as many Czechs believed they were taking risks for no reason.

An overhaul of the planned missile defense system was a major part of the so-called reset of the relationship between Russia and the US after Barack Obama became president in 2009. The new plan gave the Czech side a smaller role in the future shield, as an early missile-launch warning outpost.

The issue came back into focus recently after Moscow publicly pointed out that its differences with Washington over the missile shield have not yet been resolved. President Medvedev went as far as warning that, without an agreement, a new arms race may begin and the progress in nuclear arms reduction would be set back.

Russia wants more control over the antimissile shield, which would ensure that the shield will not harm its nuclear deterrence. It offers contribution into creating and maintaining it. The suggestion has been under consideration for several years, with little noticeable progress.

The stated goal for creating the system is to prevent states like Iran and North Korea from attacking European countries with their missiles.

Czech activist Jan Tamas, who is against Prague's involvement in the missile-defence shield believes the project will only fuel international tension, unless it involves key powers like Russia and China.

“I believe that there is a better way for true security not only for Europe but for the entire world, and that is building on the international institutions that we have in place… I do not believe that it [the missile-defence shield] is going to make the world safer. On the contrary, it is going to increase tensions with China. It has already made a mess of relations with Russia,” Tamas said. “There is really going to be a lot of tension on the global scale. We should be wise and just start thinking about security mechanisms and structures that will include all big super powers – not just some,” he added.

15 June 2011
Czechs won't host U.S. missile defense computers
Reporting by Jan Lopatka, editing by Tim Pearce


(Reuters) - The Czech Republic will not host shared computers giving early warning of hostile missiles that is part of U.S. missile defense plans, Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said Wednesday.

The Czechs had been asked to host a missile defense radar system under former President George W. Bush's plans, but the idea was shelved by President Barack Obama's administration in 2009.

The change of plans angered the Czech government which had invested considerable political capital in a project unpopular with the vast majority of the Czech population and in Russia, which saw it as a threat to its nuclear arsenal.

Discussions have taken part since then about a smaller role for the Czech Republic in a revamped U.S. missile defense plan, focused mainly on an early warning data center which would provide near real-time access to information on hostile missiles.

The Defense Ministry said the Czech role in the plan, consisting of two computers installed in Czech army premises, had become unnecessary after NATO decided in 2010 to have an information sharing system for all alliance members.

"In this context we thanked (them) for the previous ... offer and noted that in light of further developments it will not really be needed," Vondra said in a statement after meeting Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

"We will look for other options (as to) how the Czech Republic can join the alliance's system in the future."

Obama and Polish leaders reaffirmed plans during Obama's visit to Warsaw last month for Poland to host SM-3 interceptors from 2018 under the revamped U.S. program.

NATO has invited Russia to take part in the project, which is meant to shield Europe from short and medium-term ballistic missile attack from countries such as Iran.

Moscow is concerned that the plans may undermine its own large nuclear arsenal and wants a bigger say in the deployment.

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