A rising Republican voice on defense matters thinks the United States should revive a Bush-era plan to send antimissile technology to the Czech Republic.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said it was a "mistake" for the Obama administration to shelve a Bush administration plan to field long-range missile interceptors in Poland and a large radar in the Czech Republic. She said the United States should respond to Russia's recent incursions in Ukraine by consulting "closely with the Czech Republic to see how we can expeditiously further strengthen our military cooperation and extended deterrence," the Washington Times reported on Monday.
Though the prior White House's missile defense plan was publicly said to be aimed at defending against an Iranian missile attack, the initiative infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Obama team in 2009 replaced the Bush plan with its so-called "phased adaptive approach," which focuses on the gradual deployment through the end of the decade of increasingly capable missile interceptors on warships in the Mediterranean and at bases in Romania and Poland.
Ayotte's views are shared by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voiced similar calls earlier this month.
In spite of U.S. tensions with Russia over Ukraine and the recent suspension of bilateral talks on antimissile cooperation, there is little chance of rejuvenating the Bush plan. For one thing, the Czech Republic is not interested in hosting U.S. missile defense technology.
Then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Congress in 2011 that "the third site in Europe was not going to happen because the Czech government wouldn't approve the radar."
Czech President Miloš Zeman's administration earlier this month reaffirmed the country's lack of interest in hosting the site.
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation policy analyst Kingston Reif told the Times that GOP lawmakers are aware that Prague has not reversed its position.
Ayotte also called for the United States to increase the quantity of Standard Missile 3 interceptors it plans for fielding in Romania and Poland, and to "accelerate the deployment of the site in Poland." Currently, 24 interceptors are planned for placement at each of the two European sites.