Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Lithuania Could Serve U.S. Needs for Missile Interceptor Installation, Pentagon Says
Lithuania is a "good alternative" for the planned U.S. missile interceptor site in Europe, but Washington still hopes to seal a deal with Poland, the Defense Department said yesterday (see GSN, June 19).
Defense Secretary Robert Gates met yesterday with Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas at the Pentagon, the Associated Press reported.
"The Lithuanian prime minister indicated that his government was willing to consider hosting the interceptors, and for that our secretary expressed his appreciation," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. "Our position remains the same: Our preference is to work out a deal with the Poles. But prudent planning requires that we simultaneously look at backups, if necessary. Lithuania would geographically serve as a good alternative."
The Bush administration has hoped to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and an early warning radar base in the Czech Republic as a defense against potential missile threats from rogue nations, particularly Iran. Warsaw has driven a hard bargain, reportedly demanding significant increases in U.S. funding for efforts to modernize the Polish military.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk yesterday reaffirmed his argument that his nation's security must be strengthened through a missile defense deal. However, he rejected the recent statement from his chief aide that there has been no recent progress in the negotiations, AP reported.
"My government is not acting like a naïve enthusiast, but like a hard negotiator with the awareness that we are negotiating with our friends and our most important ally," he said (Burns/Klug, Associated Press I/Google News, July 1).
The U.S. State Department suggested yesterday that talks with Poland could soon reach a successful conclusion, Reuters reported.
"We very much would like to conclude an agreement and to do so in the very near future," said spokesman Tom Casey. "We've had these conversations for a long time, and I think you'd see a resolution somewhere in the coming days. But whether that's in a week or two weeks, I'm really not in a position to say" (Reuters/Yahoo!News, July 1).
"We are not, at this point, involved in any negotiations on alternative sites, because our goal is to conclude an agreement with Poland," he added. "If, for some reason, those arrangements don't work out, then I'm sure we'd look elsewhere" (Foster Klug, Associated Press II/Yahoo!News, July 1).
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Prague next week to sign a deal with the Czech government on the radar, a U.S. official told Reuters. On whether she might also make a stop in Warsaw to sign an interceptor agreement, the official said: "It would be nice but, you know, I am not making any predictions" (Reuters).
June 22, 2012
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