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Missile Defense In Eastern Europe

The United States has been working on ways to help its East European allies defend against a possible long-range missile attack by Iran. In consultation with its NATO allies and Russia, the U.S. has proposed deploying missile defenses in Eastern Europe. "I think everybody understands," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica, "that with a growing Iranian missile threat, which is quite pronounced, that there needs to be ways to deal with that problem, and that we're talking about long lead times to be able to have a defensive counter to offensive missile threats."

U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said if Iran continues to develop advanced ballistic missiles and succeeds in creating a nuclear warhead, Europe will need some form of defense. "This is a reasonable thing to do," he said, "it's something Europe ought to be interested in, it's something that Russia ought to be interested in."

The missile defense proposal calls for deploying ten inceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic. The Russian government has expressed concern over placing such defenses in Eastern Europe. But Secretary of State Rice said, "there is no way" that these inceptors "are a threat to Russia or that they are somehow going to diminish Russia's deterrent of thousands of warheads."

In a recent briefing, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the proposed anti-missile plan poses no threat to Russia:

"The missile defense plans and deployments are in no way aimed at Russia. They are instead designed to help protect the United States and its friends and allies from the possible launch of missiles from rogue states such as Iran."

The United States remains open to cooperating with Russia on missile defense issues. In the meantime, it remains in the interest of the United States, Russia, and Europe to work together on issues such as counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and the dangers posed by rogue states like Iran.