Missile-Defense Site Would
Benefit All Europe, Official Says
Gerry J. Gilmore
anti-ballistic missile defense site in Poland would benefit
all of Europe, a senior Pentagon spokesman said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Polish Defense Minister Bogdan
Klich discussed Iraq, missile defense and other issues
during meetings held
at the Defense Department’s headquarters, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff
Morrell told reporters.
Klich “had a discussion about a range of issues,” Morrell
reported, including Polish plans to reduce their forces in
Iraq while increasing their troop contribution in Afghanistan.
There are now about 900 Polish troops in Iraq and around 1,200
in Afghanistan. News reports say Poland is considering withdrawing
its forces from Iraq sometime this year, while sending 400
more troops to Afghanistan.
and Klich spent most of their time together discussing missile-defense
issues, Morrell said. American security experts believe that
a missile-defense system should be installed in Eastern Europe,
specifically placing an interceptor site in Poland and a related
facility in the Czech Republic to counter the threat of a potential
ballistic-missile strike from Iran.
A new Polish
government was elected in November, and its senior officials
have been examining the missile-defense issue, Morrell noted.
think we are now at the point where they understand where the
previous government has negotiated” on the missile-defense
issue, Morrell said of the senior Polish leaders in the new
government. “They have some domestic concerns which they
are trying to address.”
Defense Department and other U.S. government officials continue
to negotiate the missile-defense issue with Poland’s
missile-defense program is “of vital importance, not
just for us, but really for Europe, and that’s the key
here,” Morrell emphasized. “Putting these interceptors
in Poland does far more to benefit Europe and our allies there
than it does for us.”
issue also involves the Atlantic Alliance, Morrell pointed
out. The United States and Poland are NATO members.
is an issue for NATO. Deploying interceptors in Poland will
provide NATO with the ability to protect itself from a missile
threat virtually everybody recognizes exists today,” Morrell