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No clear path forward for missile defense

Czechs largely oppose US plan.


The Obama administration has given indications that it's willing to reconsider the missile defense plans, which have also infuriated Russia.

Even though the interceptors have succeed in hitting their assigned targets in little more than half of their tests — tests that independent experts say have been so dumbed-down as to not be realistic — the Kremlin insists the bases pose a threat to Russia because they are located so close to its borders. And Russia has even threatened to deploy medium-range missiles in the enclave of Kaliningrad aimed at the Czech and Polish bases.

Washington has said that if Moscow can help dissuade Iran from pursuing development of long-range missiles, the bases could be scrapped. The administration has also expressed concerns that the system is not operationally viable and should be returned to the drawing board for more research and development.

For now, there doesn't seem to be any viable path on the Czech side to ratification of the two bilateral treaties signed by the Czech and U.S. governments. Still, on a political level Czechs would prefer the U.S. administration pull the plug on the bases so that the Czechs don't have to say “no” to their most powerful western ally.

In a letter to Obama last week the regional governor of Central Bohemia, where the proposed base would be located, appealed to him not to carry out the plans because they would destroy a “highly valuable natural habitat.”

But the environmental impact is not the only concern for governor David Rath, of the leading opposition party, the Social Democrats. In response to questions submitted by email, Rath said “there is no reason build the radar base in Czech Republic. Even most of the Czech people do not want to have a radar in Czech Republic because is questionable (and) problematic.”

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