Poland says US missile shield terms inadequate

By RIA Novosti,

Warsaw : Poland has said the US offer in return of permission to deploy a missile defence base on Polish soil fails to address its security concerns, but it is ready for further dialogue.

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“We need firm guarantees from Washington that the deployment of a missile defence base will enhance Poland’s security,” but on this issue “we did not achieve a result that would be satisfactory to Poland”, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters.

In the long-running negotiations with the US, Warsaw has been pushing Washington to provide billions of dollars of investment in Poland’s air defences in exchange for allowing the deployment of interceptor missiles.

“We are ready to cooperate but we are waiting for an answer from the American side,” he said.

The Polish missile base would be linked to a radar tracking system in the Czech Republic for which a deal is likely to be signed later this month.

Russia opposes the plans, rejecting Washington’s line that they would defend against a potential Iranian strike, and considers them a national security threat.

In an apparent reference to Russia’s threat to target its missiles at US facilities in Europe, Tusk said: “The fact that the installation would be built on Polish territory increases certain risks and threats for Poland.”

He said the US must agree to permanently deploy ground-to-air missiles in Poland to give the country the security guarantees it needs.

“Air defence elements that would specifically defend Polish territory are absolutely essential for Poland,” he said.

The US currently gives Poland $27 million annually in military funding, the most any European ally receives, and the Bush administration earlier this year offered an extra $20 million annually.

Washington’s negotiations with the Czech Republic have been progressing more smoothly. The Czech government has agreed to the plan in general, but parliament still needs to approve the deal.

Earlier this week, the United States and Lithuania, a European Union and NATO member since 2004, admitted holding talks on the possible deployment of the missile interceptor base in the Baltic state if the US deal with Poland falls through.