Romania appears ready to become home to U.S. ballistic missile defense interceptors, the Associated Press reported today (see GSN, Oct. 23, 2009).
The Eastern European state's Supreme Defense Council signed off on a U.S. offer today. "Ground capabilities to intercept missiles" would become operational in five years, increasing Romania's security, according to President Traian Basescu.
"Romania will not host a system directed against Russia, but against other threats," he said.
The Obama administration had not yet publicly acknowledged the deal, which was unofficially confirmed to AP by a State Department official.
Washington intends in coming years to deploy land- and sea-based versions of the Standard Missile 3 system around Europe as a hedge against short- and medium-range missiles fired by Iran. The plan, unveiled last year, replaces the Bush administration's program to deploy 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.
The new plan "guarantees full coverage of Romanian territory" from a ballistic or medium-range missile strike, Basescu said. He said the previous initiative would have left much of his nation vulnerable to attack.
Negotiators from Bucharest and Washington are expected to begin talks on the matter. Romanian lawmakers would have to sign off on a finished deal (Alina Murray, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, Feb. 4).