Anti-missile defence, US change of plans. No interceptors for Europe. Russia and Poland not happy.

18 Mar 2013


 To fund boosting its west coast defences, the US is to scrap plans to place SM-3 IIB missile in Europe and deploy them in Alaska.
The long-range interceptors were to have been the final phase of a program that Russia contends aims to counter its own missiles. Washington says the system is meant to stop missiles from Iran and North Korea.
U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, however, stressed that plans are on track to deploy shorter-range missiles to Poland and Romania within the next five years.
“We feel no euphoria in connection with what was announced by the U.S. defence secretary, and we see no grounds for correcting our position”, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
“This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such,” he added. “We will continue a dialogue and seek the signing of legally binding agreements that all elements of the U.S. missile-defence system are not aimed at Russian strategic nuclear forces.”
In recent past U.S. defence and political officials stated that shorter-range interceptors would still be based in Poland as part of NATO’s missile defence system in Europe.
The Obama administration has planned to put medium-range interceptors in Redzikowo, in northern Poland, starting in 2018, as part of the NATO system.
The U.S. missile defence plans involve building up the system in Europe in four stages, with shorter- and medium-range interceptors to be deployed in the first three phases, and longer-range interceptors due in the fourth phase.
However, the fourth stage has not yet been funded by Congress, and there are indications the technology is not ready. At the same time they have been an irritant in relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Phase one of the system has already been deployed, with anti-missile interceptors on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Phase two is to include interceptors in Romania, then interceptors in Poland will come as part of phase three.
The U.S. missile defence system at Romania’s Deveselu military base is not affected either and will become operational in 2015 as planned.
Poland’s main aim in having the U.S. interceptors has been to have an American military presence on Polish soil in the belief it will increase the country’s security, particularly given fears that Russia could one day try to dominate the region again.
The US will now add 14 interceptors against incoming missile threats, to the 30 already in place in California and Alaska by 2017.

 Sources: PAP, Reuters, AP, AFP


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