NATO Backs U.S. Plans for a Missile Shield in Europe
April of 2008, NATO backed U.S. plans to place 10 long-range missile defense interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic to effectively create a missile shield for not only the United States, but Europe and NATO allies in the region. As increased threats present themselves from nations such as Iran and North Korea, these missile shields over Europe are coming to reality at a strategic time. NATO has determined that the installation of missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic are in the best interest of the Alliance, and that their existing plans to place short-range missile shields in Europe will continue as a complementary effort to the plans of the U.S. to place these 10 long-range installations.
NATO has been monitoring the efforts by Iran to obtain nuclear technologies and possibly a nuclear warhead. Iran has already made significant threats to attack Israel and destroy the country if possible. Iran's lack of concern about the existing sanctions and any future ones imposed on them for continuing a nuclear program have the Alliance more concerned than ever. As a result, NATO sees the effort by the U.S., Poland, and the Czech Republic as a step in the right direction to provide a substantial missile shield for Europe and areas of the Middle East.
North Korea has had nuclear weapons for some time, and it is a concern of NATO. Recently, it appears as though North Korean scientist have been aiding Iran in their nuclear program to some extent. North Korea's willingness to help whichever nation is willing to pay for their technology is not acceptable to NATO. It poses a great threat to the rest of the world when a rogue nation can acquire the technology to produce weapons of mass destruction if the price is right. While NATO may not be able to stop these practices, they can continue to support negotiations between the U.S. and European allies to place missile shields within a number of countries. The objective is to place missile defense installations in these locations, which will eliminate the threat of a nuclear, biological, or chemical warhead from detonating over its intended target. These missile shield installations do not have missiles equipped with any type of warheads. These are simply missile defense installations. Placing these types of missile defense interceptors throughout Europe is exactly the type of strategy NATO wants to employ to show their relevance in protecting member countries in the Alliance in the 21st century. NATO is embracing this action, by the United States, as an integral part of their own ongoing missile defense efforts.
Russia Not Quick to Embrace European Missile Shield
Russia is not convinced that these installations will only be defensive. Because of this, they are not supportive of the actions by NATO to approve the installation of these 10 long-range missile shields in Poland. Fearing that the U.S. would possibly place nuclear warheads in their back door, Russia is in need of some concrete reassurances. The U.S. has been careful to leave the chair open for Russia at the negotiating table when it comes to the installation of missile shields in Europe.
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