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Gazeta Wyborcza is reporting the Obama administration will not implement the Bush administration’s plan for a missile “shield” in Eastern Europe. “The missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic are virtually certain to be abandoned“.
The Polish newspaper names Washington lobbyist Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, as its source. “The signals that the generals in the Pentagon are sending are absolutely clear: as far as missile defence is concerned, the current US administration is searching for other solutions than the previously bases in Poland and the Czech Republic,” Ellison said.
“The administration has been sounding out for a couple of weeks now how the Congress will react when the plans for building the missile defence in Poland and the Czech Republic are dumped,” Ellison said a Congressional source has told him.
The New York Times reports a final decision has not been made, rather the United States is mulling alternatives for the missile shield. Anonymous Obama administration officials “cautioned that no decisions had been made and that all options were still under discussion, including retaining the Polish and Czech sites”.
The projected cost of building the Polish and Czech missile defense sites are between $837 and $1 billion, according to U.S. Government Accountability Office. However, “the overall cost of establishing a modest ballistic missile system in Europe would exceed $4 billion through 2015, according to the G.A.O. report.”
With so much military pork on the line, the conservative news media is already suggesting Obama is surrendering to Russia. An editorial for the Washington Times believes by not deploying the system in Eastern Europe, the United States “sends the wrong signal” to “two of its most dependable NATO allies.”
Boeing has dusted off the concept of building a mobile interceptor system. “”If a fixed site is going to be just too hard to get implemented, politically or otherwise, we didn’t want people to think that the only way you needed to use a GBI was in a fixed silo,” explained ever helpful Greg Hyslop, a Boeing vice president.
Raytheon, for its part, seems content for now to woo Israel. The world’s largest missile manufacturer plans to modify its existing sea-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) to be deployable on land. If “deployed globally with international allies, the potential value … will be more than $1 billion,” said Michael Booen, a Raytheon vice president.
Booen also suggested the SM-3 is also “an option for European missile defense. It could play a role there with or without the 10 interceptor missiles” proposed for Poland or not.
The alternatives being weighed by the Obama administration include “dropping either the Polish or Czech site, or both sites, and instead building launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans, while developing land-based versions of the Aegis SM-3, a ship-based anti-missile system”.
“It is clear that Eastern Europe is out of the epicenter of this American administration,” said Piotr Paszkowski, a spokesman for Poland’s foreign minister.”The missile defense system is now under review. The chances that it will be in Poland are 50-50.”
Absent from the discussions is whether or not such an expensive system will work and if so, is even needed. Earlier in the week, Reuters reported Uzi Rubin, the former head of Israel’s missile defense program said, Iranian missiles will pose a threat to Europe in 3 to 4 years.
“If they push it — put all the budget, put all the engineers — three or four years” is all it would take to give Iran’s existing ballistic missile a range of 3,900 kilometers (2,438 miles), enough to hit London, Rubin told a U.S. Army-sponsored missile-defense conference in Huntsville, Alabama. “Will they do it? I’m not sure.”
The NY Times article said the Obama administration is considering changes to the Bush missile defense plan “to adjust to what they see as an accelerating threat from shorter-range Iranian missiles.”
For its part, Iran has said to have greatly improved its missile accuracy, according to the Tehran Times.
World military spending set a new record last year and is expected to increase in 2009. Whether or not a missile system is deployed in Eastern Europe or elsewhere in Europe, or if Iran will have missiles with a range to strike Europe in 3-4 years is not really the point, as long as neither side is talking peace, weapons manufacturers and their cheerleaders will be raking in the money.
Cross-posted from European Tribune.