Washington and Warsaw Sign Missile Defense Deal Despite Russian Threats

Washington and Warsaw Sign Missile Defense Deal Despite Russian Threats

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski signed an agreement negotiated last week that will position 10 American-controlled interceptor missiles at a U.S.-manned missile defense base in Poland. Both governments reached the deal despite strenuous Russian opposition to the move.

During the past year, Russian political, military, and other leaders have stridently denounced American efforts to establish a comprehensive ballistic missile defense (BMD) network that extends beyond the United States. In particular, Moscow has objected to U.S. plans to deploy ballistic missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic to supplement the two operational national U.S. missile defense sites in Alaska and California. These facilities would include an advanced battle management radar in the Czech Republic along with 10 hit-to-kill interceptors missiles equipped with non-explosive warheads at a base in Poland.

Russian representatives have argued that the stated U.S. justification for the BMD deployments -- that the systems are needed to defend the United States and European countries against an emerging Iranian missile threat -- lacks credibility. They maintain that Iran and other states of proliferation concern have yet to develop long-range missiles or the nuclear warheads that would make them especially threatening. They further argue that the best means to discourage countries from pursuing weapons of mass destruction is to alleviate their underlying security concerns through diplomatic initiatives rather than through military measures likely to trigger aggressive counteractions. Instead, Russian leaders insist that the true object of these deployments along Russia's periphery is to intercept Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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