U.S. Has “Plan B” for European Missile Defense Sites

The United States has a fall-back plan for its European missile defense project should either Poland or the Czech Republic choose not to house key installations, the head of the U.S .Missile Defense Agency said Friday (see GSN, Oct. 31).

The Bush administration wants to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. It says the sites are needed to defend against a potential missile threat from Iran.

“We always have to have a plan B,” according to Lt. Gen. Henry Obering. “Poland and the Czech Republic are the optimum locations, but there are other choices.”

He did not discuss specific alternatives, Agence France-Presse reported.

Obering called on Prague to move ahead quickly with approval of its part of the plan. The Czech government has signed off on two treaties, which are now being considered in parliament. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said lawmakers should hold off on a final decision until the next U.S. president takes office in January.

Obering last week also expressed concern about the rate of progress in Warsaw.

“Most of the intelligence community believes that the Iranians are going to have a capability to threaten certainly all of Europe,” he said. “In fact, that’s something they believe could happen shortly, within the year.

“And they can threaten the United States in the next five to six years,” Obering added. “So there is an urgency to getting this schedule on.”

Washington hopes to deploy the full European missile defenses between 2011 and 2013. The sites would complement existing radar installations in Greenland and the United Kingdom, as well as missile interceptors in the United States.

Obering is scheduled to leave his post in three weeks, AFP reported. He is set to be replaced by Army Maj. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly (see GSN, March 19; Agence France-Presse, Oct. 31).

November 3, 2008
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The United States has a fall-back plan for its European missile defense project should either Poland or the Czech Republic choose not to house key installations, the head of the U.S .Missile Defense Agency said Friday (see GSN, Oct. 31).