Missile Defense Threat Level
Missile Defense Threat Level Increases as Factors Stall Decision
In April of 2008, NATO endorsed the installation of 10 long-range U.S. missile defense installations in Poland with a radar station in the Czech Republic to help reduce the missile defense threat level. This support is complementary to NATO's own efforts to install short-range missile defense installations throughout Europe to protect its allies from possible nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads.
In spite of this historic agreement reached between the United States, Poland, and the Czech Republic is still in question. One reason is because the leaders in Poland have not reached a satisfactory arrangement with the U.S. for future military support in the event Poland is threatened by another nation. Polish leaders want some guarantees from the U.S. that assistance will be available if needed.
One other reason for the missile defense threat level being in question is that Congress is demanding additional testing of missiles to be used in the defense installations scheduled for Poland and the Czech Republic. This additional testing will delay the completion of the 10 long-range installations in Europe past 2013. The problem with this demand by Congress is that it is imperative that these missile defense installations become online as soon as possible in light of the efforts by Iran, for example, to obtain nuclear weapons. Further delays by Congressional requests for more testing, or even delays over the costs of the system are potentially harmful for America's security.
Missile Defense Threat Level Options Other Than a Location in Poland
To keep the missile defense threat level low and progress moving forward, the United States is exploring other options for the installation of the 10 long-range missile defense interceptors. Poland is requesting a substantial aid package which will transform their existing military greatly strengthening their forces. Included in this package is a billion-dollar mobile air defense system. This may be more than the U.S. is willing to provide. The Bush administration denies they are looking at the Baltic state of Lithuania as a possible alternative to Poland as the location for the interceptors.
Wherever the 10 long-range interceptors are to be stationed, time is running out to get the deal signed and sealed and in progress. If this deal is not in place by the end of summer, 2008, it may be in dire straits as President Bush will be leaving office and the future of missile defense installations will be in the hands of the next administration, which may not be favorable to any type of missile defense.
Other Threats to Missile Defense Installations in Europe
Depending on which presidential candidate takes office as a result of the November 2008 elections in the United States, existing and future missile defense installations could be in question. However, delays by Congress demanding additional testing of missiles to be stationed in Europe pose a great threat. Iran's nuclear ambitions are estimated to be online by 2013 - 2015. Missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic are scheduled to be completed by 2013 if there are no delays. It is critical for the U.S. and its allies that these installations are in place and operational prior to Iran obtaining any nuclear weapons if the security and safety of not only the U.S., but also their European allies and Israel is to be maintained. If Iran receives assistance from North Korea in their development of nuclear technologies and a nuclear weapon, the timeframe could be shortened substantially.
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