Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Step Closer to Third Missile Defense Site

After Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's visit to Washington this week, the Bush administration, though still far from a final deal, is one step closer to having its third missile defense site in Europe.

The FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill
required before any funding was provided for the site that t
he Polish and Czech governments approve the deal, that the US Congress have 45 days to object to its components, and that the Secretary of Defense submit a report to Congress certifying that the interceptors work.

Last week, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Bush made significant strides in reaching their agreement.  This week, President Bush made strides with Poland when he agreed to help modernize their military, a key demand made by the Polish government for allowing 10 interceptors to be placed on their soil.

Poland's Tusk, facing significant opposition for the deal from both domestic and foreign sources, has proven to be a tougher negotiator than his predecessor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.  A majority of Polish citizens still disagree with the plan, and Russia strongly objects, going so far as to issue threats to point nuclear missiles at Poland if the deal goes through. Tusk has
asked for Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles, additional costly military assistance in the range of s
everal billion dollars, and closer bilateral ties with the U.S.  The U.S. administration had previously refused to consider this all as one package, and Dana Perino still claims that, "It is certainly not a quid pro quo." Hardly convincing in light of these recent talks.

After Monday's meeting, Tusk and Bush made the announcement that the placement of the interceptors and the upgrades to the Polish military would be considered as one deal and that a "concrete plan" for the modernization would be formed "before [Bush's] watch is over." Rice - aware of limited time left to pursue the deal in this administration - said that U.S. consideration of the planned upgrades may only take three months, a reduction from previous statements that it would take six.

One more step forward. Now let's take two back.

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