President George W. Bush and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek recently announced that they were close to an agreement to install a missile defense radar system in the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolanek described the details yet to be worked out as "minor." Mr. Bush said, "There's a will to get this done, for the sake of mutual security."
The U.S. has proposed a missile defense system aimed at defending Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack by rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. The plan includes placing ten interceptor missiles in Poland. The U.S. believes that the missile threat from Iran is real and growing, and it is a threat that extends to the United States and Russia as well.
Russia has expressed concern over placing such defenses in Eastern Europe. But President Bush stressed that the U.S. missile defense proposal does not threaten Russia:
"Russia's not a threat to peace. Regimes that adhere to extremist ideologies, which may have the capability of launching weapons to those of us who love freedom, they're the threats to peace. The missile defense system is aimed to deal with those threats."
The proposed missile defense system is oriented against a potential enemy with a small arsenal and is of no use against a huge nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal such as that possessed by Russia. The U.S. believes that security should be discussed in a multilateral way. That is why the U.S. is pursuing cooperation with both Russia and its NATO allies.
The United States believes it is critical for its NATO allies to be prepared to defend against the threats of the twenty-first century, including a potential ballistic missile attack. Moreover, effective defenses reduce incentives for states to acquire ballistic missiles in the first place. That's why it remains in the interest of the United States, Russia, and Europe to work together on building an effective missile defense system.