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U.S. - Polish Missile Defense Agreement In Force

In a photo provided by the U.S. Navy, a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from the Aegis cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), during a joint Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy ballistic missile flight test, off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.(File Photo)

Defensive system is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles before they reach their targets.

President Barack Obama announced approximately two years ago, plans to pursue a new approach to missile defense in Europe – one that provides more comprehensive protection for NATO Allies and forces, against the growing threat of ballistic missiles.

"The proliferation of ballistic missiles that are more lethal, more accurate, and can cover greater distances poses a growing threat to the people and security of both Europe and the United States," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on September 13.

"To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's Allies," said President Barack Obama on September 17, 2009. "It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies."

In October 2009, Poland was the first country to commit, in principle, to host a land-based missile defense base on its territory. Poland was also first to conclude negotiations and sign a basing agreement in July 2010. Now with the Polish ratification process complete, the two countries issued a statement announcing that they are ready to take the next step toward ensuring European security:

"The United States and Poland are pleased to jointly announce that the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement of 2008 and its Amending Protocol of 2010 on deployment of the land-based SM-3 system within Poland has entered into force, effective September 15, 2011."

The Standard Missile-3, or SM-3 interceptor which will be deployed in Poland was originally mounted on U.S. naval ships. It is a defensive system designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles before they reach their targets. It is composed of a network of sensors for target detection and tracking; interceptors which will destroy incoming missiles by colliding with them; and a command and control system.

According to the joint statement, the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense system will be deployed by 2018 at the Redzikowo Base.

"This base," notes the statement, "represents a significant contribution by our two nations to a future NATO missile defense capability."