Czech-US missile shield deal faces hurdles in parliament

Other News Materials 4 April 2008 23:41 (UTC +04:00)

A US-Czech deal to place an anti-missile radar in the former East Bloc nation sparked resistance Friday among a junior governing party that may hold the key to the plan's parliamentary approval. ( dpa )

The Greens have warned that they will approve the US project only if it is clear that it will become part of NATO anti-missile defences in the future.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's centre-right government has a slim lower-house majority and the six Green lawmakers could be crucial.

NATO leaders agreed Thursday at a summit in Bucharest "to explore ways" of integrating the planned US missile shield in Czech Republic and Poland "with any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture."

Some Greens in the Czech parliament said the clause is too vague.

"It is a positive shift, but it is impossible to talk about an integration of the radar into a NATO command at the moment. It is possible that we will vote against it," Czech Education Minister and Greens vice-chairman Ondrej Liska told Czech television.

The Greens are split over the issue. The party's leader, Vice-Premier Martin Bursik, and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who was nominated by the Greens, support the Czech-US deal and are satisfied with the NATO declaration.

The left-leaning opposition opposes the project and wants a referendum.

US plans also call for Poland to host 10 interceptor missiles for the missile shield, which Washington says is aimed against so-called rogue states such as Iran. Russia has opposed the plan.

Czech and US officials announced Thursday that they completed talks on the main diplomatic treaty on placing a radar for planned US missile defence system on Czech soil.