Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some news on missile defense

The recent days saw no major developments, just some comments connected to the U.S. missile defense system.

The Prague Daily Monitor reports that Germany supports the stationing of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic and considers it important that the system, including anti-missiles in Poland, be part of NATO's missile defense architecture. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung made such a comment after meeting his Czech counterpart last Thursday, May 15. A couple of days later, on May 20, Jung met his Polish counterpart in Warsaw and reiterated Germany’s position. Both ministers agreed that the setting up of such a missile defense system in the NATO-framework is “correct and necessary”.

Even though the European ministers mentioned the necessity of a missile defense system, news from the United States show that it is still a very long way to go: the NTI Global Newswire reports that U.S. Missile Defense Agency has pushed back a planned intercept test until fall so it can replace a malfunctioning part on a weapon designed to destroy incoming enemy missiles. The test was originally scheduled for April, delayed to July and now to October.

Naturally, also on the Russian side some comments were made on missile defense. Since May 7 Dmitry Medvedev is the (maybe not so) strong man in the Kremlin. In the meantime the Russian President inspected the big “toys” of the country’s Strategic Missile Forces, the Topol M and he "felt a drive" when he watched the missiles and other weapons rolling across the square. It seems that he enjoyed this feeling so much that he promised that such parades will continue and may even be expanded and – by far of significantly greater importance – he vowed to make sure that the weapons are adequately funded. In his first comments about missile defense Medvedev warned of "an adequate response" to U.S. missile defense plans in Europe but said Moscow was still ready to negotiate with Washington. In his statement he seemed a bit less hawkish than Vladimir Putin. This is not fully convincing to all. United Press International’s Martin Sieff wrote:

[These comments] confirm that, however more "liberal" Medvedev may sound compared with his predecessor Putin, when talking about concepts of the rule of law or the importance of modernizing Russia, he shares his predecessor's determination to upgrade the Strategic Missile Forces.

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