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Latest on the Missile Defense System

Russia’s очень не рада (very unhappy), but NATO has endorsed President Bush’s plan to build a missile defense system in Europe. Associated Press writer Matthew Lee quoted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying, “Now it is clearly understood in the alliance that the challenges of the 21st century, the threats of the 21st century, make it necessary to have missile defense that can defend the countries of Europe…[NATO has] also asked Russia to stop its criticism of the alliance effort and to join in the cooperative efforts that have been offered to it by the United States.”

The American plans are for 10 interceptor missiles to be in Poland and a radar tracking site in the Czech Republic. It’s been said that the Czechs will be signing an agreement with the U.S. by May; Poland hasn’t officially agreed on the plan, but they are in talks. I suspect Poland will sign up eventually. Call it the bitter aftertaste of the former Soviet Union, but there’s not exactly a lot of love between Poland and Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, as was Mikhail Gorbachev when Gorby headed the Soviet Union, is not happy about the missile defense system. I suspect Putin is concerned that such a system will give America a strategic and military advantage over Russia. Gorbachev was known to have made the missile defense system (or strategic defense initiative, as it was also known then) a big issue when holding nuclear arms talks with then-President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986. Part of Gorbachev’s argument then was that Russian scientists had assured him that such a plan was impossible. That is looking more and more like an empty ploy.

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