US missile defense complex in Poland
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The US missile defense complex in Poland, also called the European Interceptor Site (EIS), was part of the Ballistic Missile Defense European Capability of the US. It was intended to be located in Redzikowo, Słupsk, Poland, forming a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system in conjunction with an US narrow-beam midcourse tracking and discrimination radar system located in Brdy, Czech Republic. It was to consist of 10 silo-based interceptors: two-stage versions of the existing three-stage Ground Based Interceptors with Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles and a closing speed of about 7 km/s. The plan was cancelled in 2009 and subsequently replaced with a phased plan—the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which will include SM-3 Block IIA interceptors to be positioned in Poland around 2018.
- 1 Development
- 2 History
- 3 International reactions to discontinuation of project
- 4 Reformulated Obama administration project
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
According to the United States administration, the system was intended to protect against future missiles from Iran, such as the alleged Shahab-6, although in November 2007 the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been halted since late 2003. It has also been pointed out that Central Europe is beyond the range of any missile that Iran currently has.
While the Polish and Czech governments were in favor of the project, the missile shield received opposition from some groups within Poland and the Czech Republic, including some protests and a relay hunger strike by two Czech activists in May 2008 which lasted for 300 days.
On September 17, 2009, Obama administration announced that plans for the project had been scrapped.
In October, on a trip by Vice President Joe Biden to Warsaw, a new, smaller interceptor project on roughly the same schedule as the Bush administration plan, was introduced, and welcomed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Since 2002, US had been in talks with Poland and other European countries over the possibility of setting up a European base to intercept long-range missiles. According to US officials, a site similar to the US base in Alaska would help protect the US and Europe from missiles fired from the Middle East or North Africa. The Ustka-Wicko base of the Polish Army Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said in November 2005 he wanted to open up the public debate on whether Poland should host such a base.was initially mentioned as a possible site of US missile interceptors. Poland's prime minister
In February 2007 the US started formal negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic concerning construction of missile shield installations in those countries for a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System. However in April 2007 the Washington Post reported that 57% of Poles opposed the plan.
Russia threatened to place short-range nuclear missiles on its borders with NATO if the United States refused to abandon its plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. In April 2007, then-President Putin warned of a new Cold War if the Americans deployed the shield in Central Europe. Putin also said that Russia was prepared to abandon its obligations under a Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 with the United States.
On July 4, 2008, Poland did not agree on the conditions set forth by the United States regarding the installation of anti-ballistic missiles on its territory.
On July 8, 2008, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that if the missile defense system was approved, "we will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods."
On August 14, 2008, shortly after the 2008 South Ossetia war, the United States and Poland announced a deal to implement the missile defense system in Polish territory, with a tracking system placed in the Czech Republic. The Russians responded by saying such action "cannot go unpunished." "The fact that this was signed in a period of very difficult crisis in the relations between Russia and the United States over the situation in Georgia shows that, of course, the missile defense system will be deployed not against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia," Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's NATO envoy, said.
A high-ranking Russian military officer had warned Poland that it was exposing itself to attack by accepting a U.S. missile interceptor base on its soil. The deputy chief of staff of Russia's armed forces Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn has warned Poland that, "by deploying (the system), it is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent".
On August 20, 2008, the "Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Poland Concerning the Deployment of Ground-Based Ballistic Missile Defense Interceptors in the Territory of the Republic of Poland" was signed in Warsaw by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
On November 5, during President Dmitry Medvedev's first state of the nation speech he stated that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missiles to Russia's western enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania "to neutralize, if necessary, a missile defense system." "From what we have seen in recent years — the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of NATO — we have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength," he said.
On November 8, an aide to U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama denied a claim made by Polish President Lech Kaczyński's office that a pledge had been made to go ahead with the missile defense system during a phone conversation between the two men. "His [Obama's] position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defence system when the technology is proved to be workable," the aid said, but "no commitment" has been made.
On November 14, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that plans for a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe were misguided, and wouldn't make the continent a safer place. "Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security ... it would complicate things, and would make them move backward," he said at a summit. He also warned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev against upping tensions by deploying missiles in Kaliningrad in response to the U.S. planned missile defense system.
On April 5, 2009, President Obama, during his speech in Prague, declared: "As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven."  President Obama continued to express conditional support for the program and sought to isolate it from U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control talks.
On September 17, 2009, The White House issued a statement saying that the US "no longer planned to move forward" with the project. According to President Obama, new intelligence had shown Iran was pursuing short-range and medium-range missile development, rather than long-range, necessitating a shift in strategy. The outlines of a reformulated, scaled-down project began to emerge in October, 2009.
After the GBI cancellation, Vicepresident Joe Biden visited Poland in 2009 to "mend relations" by announcing the SM-3 deployment plan (see two sections below for details of the new plan). Polish sources complained that the new plan no longer gave Poland an exclusive role (because an SM-3 site was also planned for Romania).
In 2010 cables leaked by Wikileaks showed that Polish diplomats felt more threatened by Russia than by Iran. The (leaked) responses from Pentagon show that Alexander Vershbow sought to assuage that the missile shield, including the SM-3 alternative, was adaptable to "hypothetical" threats.
In March 2013 Polish Deputy Minister of Defense Robert Kupiecki announced that Poland intends to build its own missile defense within NATO, complementing the US deployment. Their tentative budget for the next decade is "$10 billion for the modernization of air defense, where half of this sum is dedicated to lower-tier missile defense."
International reactions to discontinuation of project
The Polish government responded nervously. Some politicians voiced concern that the country would lose its special status in Washington, and that the move by Obama was an appeasement to Moscow. Jaroslaw Gowin, with Poland's governing Civic Platform party, said Obama's decision had been made independently of Polish sensitivities. Former Polish President Lech Wałęsa said he was deeply disappointed by the new US administration's plans. He stated: "The Americans have always only taken care of their own interests and they have used everyone else." According to a September 18, 2009 poll, 56 percent of Poles supported Obama's decision and only 30 percent were against it. Leader of main Polish opposition party, Jarosław Kaczyński, claimed that the decision of abandoning the shield was announced on September 17 not by accident  (the date is of great symbolic value to Poland, as on September 17, 1939 Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union). Polish newspapers showed mixed responses to the discontinuation, with some seeing it as a positive action, and some saw it with very negative connotations.
However, Slawomir Nowak, a senior adviser to Polish Prime Minister Tusk, responded positively to the proposed short and medium range missile systems replacement of the long range systems: "If this system becomes reality in the shape Washington is now suggesting, it would actually be better for us than the original missile shield programme," he stated. "We were never really threatened by a long-range missile attack from Iran," he told TVP Info.
Polish non-governmental response
The Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita conducted a survey which showed that 48 percent of Poles believed the decision was good for Poland, while 31 percent had the opposite view. In contrast, the Polish tabloid newspaper Fakt, ran a front page headline "Ale bylismy naiwni ZDRADA! USA sprzedaly nas Rosji i wbily name noz w plecy" which translates to "Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back". This was also reported by other news organizations.
The Associated Press reports "The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection."
Reactions in the US to Obama's decision were mixed. Some Republican critics have seen this as a move to placate Moscow. Defeated presidential candidate John McCain called the decision "seriously misguided". Conversely, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the decision was "brilliant" and clearly based on an accurate summary of the current threats. Obama rejected accusations that the decision was an appeasement to Moscow. He stated in an interview: "The Russians don't make determinations about what our defence posture is. If the by-product of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid... then that's a bonus."
President Medvedev welcomed the news as "positive". "We value the US president’s responsible approach towards implementing our agreements," he stated in an address shown on national television. Prime Minister Putin said it was a "correct and brave" move. The main reason for President Barack Obama's decision was "Russia's uncompromising position on the issue," according to Russian foreign policy expert Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Federation Council of Russia.
Western European response
Leaders in Western Europe reacted positively. German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the move, calling it a "a very hopeful signal" for relations with Russia. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that this was "an excellent decision from every point of view and I hope that our Russian friends will attach importance to this decision," while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave his fullest backing, stating that he strongly supported the decision taken by Obama.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the step by the U.S. government was "no big surprise for anybody who had been following the cues in the past days and months," but that he was "100 percent convinced" that the step was no expression of a cooling in relations between the United States and the Czech Republic. However, Mirek Topolanek, who was prime minister when Prague agreed to co-host the shield, said the US decision to drop the plans "is not good news for the Czech state, for Czech freedom and independence."
Reformulated Obama administration project
The reformulated project announced most prominently by Vice President Biden in October, 2009, would entail smaller, mobile SM-3 interceptors, to be placed by 2018. The whole of the Obama plan "envisions stationing existing SM-3 interceptors as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense on Aegis-equipped ships in the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere by 2011, and on land in Central Europe by 2015, part of a European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). A more advanced system would be deployed by 2018, including in Poland as EPAA phase 3, and another generation, theoretically capable of shooting down intercontinental missiles, (EPAA phase 4) by 2020." Phase 4 was cancelled however in March 2013, triggering some speculation that it was a concession promised by Obama to Dmitry Medvedev before the United States presidential election, 2012; the allegations of Russian influence over this decision were however denied by the Pentagon.
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