Poland confirms plans to deploy U.S. Patriot missile systems

Other News Materials 26 February 2009 13:45 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. Patriot air defense systems will be placed in Poland regardless of the prospects of the deployment of a U.S. missile defense base in the country, the Polish foreign minister said.

Radoslaw Sikorski met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington late on Wednesday to discuss the placement of a U.S. base with at least 10 missile interceptors in Poland, reported RIA Novosti.

"I was especially pleased when the U.S. secretary of state said that the United States would implement what is most important for Poland - the political declaration signed as part of the missile shield deal," Sikorsky said.

He added that the document included the placement of a U.S.-manned Patriot missile battery in Poland "initially as a temporary measure and later on a permanent basis."

Washington signed deals with Warsaw and Prague last year to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013.

To clinch the deal, the United States accepted Poland's demands for extra security guarantees to offset potential risks of deploying a missile-interceptor base in the Central European country, including a Patriot missile air-defense system and greater military ties.

Washington has since moved to find a compromise on the missile shield dispute with Moscow, which opposes the plans, and has sought closer cooperation with Russia to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. The missile threat from Iran has been cited as a reason for deploying the new system in Central Europe.

Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the balance of security in Europe. President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to retaliate if the U.S. plans went ahead by deploying Iskander-M missiles in the country's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

U.S. President Barack Obama has indicated that he may put on hold his predecessor George Bush's plans concerning the European site for Washington's global missile defense system, which he said needed more analysis.

Sikorski said on Wednesday he did not know whether the missile shield plan would go ahead.

"The U.S. administration is still discussing the plans for a missile base in Poland. They have not decided yet," he said.

Patriot (MIM-104) is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air-defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.

As well as the U.S., Patriot is in service in Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

Patriot missile systems were successfully deployed by U.S. forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.