U.S. Missile Defense Plan Endangered in Czech Republic

Plans to place a U.S. missile defense radar in the Czech Republic appear to be on the ropes, the Washington Post reported yesterday (see GSN, March 27).

In the face of opposition from 70 percent of the populace, the Czech government has signed to pacts opening the door for installation of the radar base in the Brdy area.

However, the government that backed the deal had to delay a parliamentary vote on the matter last month and then was on the wrong end of a no-confidence vote that will force its dissolution. The next government is likely to either vacate the agreement or simply let it lie without taking action, observers said.

"As far as the Czechs are concerned right now, it's on the shelf," said former top Czech intelligence official Oldrich Cerny. "It didn't stand a chance of being ratified by the Parliament in its current shape."

"The truth is, the treaties are not dead. They can be brought back to life," said Nonviolent Movement leader and missile defense opponent Jan Tamas. "That's the strange thing about it. We have our own politicians who have already gone completely against the will of the people, so who knows what they'll try to do" (Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, April 5).

The new leadership in Washington has not formally said whether it would pursue its predecessor's initiative, which also includes deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland. However, President Barack Obama said yesterday that the idea would remain relevant as long as concerns persist regarding Iran's nuclear activities, Reuters reported (see related GSN story, today).

“As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with the missile system,” Obama said in Prague. “If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile construction in Europe will be removed" (Jason Hovel, Reuters/Khaleej Times, April 5).

April 6, 2009
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Plans to place a U.S. missile defense radar in the Czech Republic appear to be on the ropes, the Washington Post reported yesterday (see GSN, March 27).