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Czech mayors oppose U.S. missile shield plans

Posted by seumasach on November 10, 2008

MOSCOW, November 10 (RIA Novosti) – Mayors of 15 Czech cities are to ask U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to abandon the Bush administration’s plans to place a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic, a member of the European parliament said on Monday.

The agreement to station a U.S. radar near a military area about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Prague was signed on July 8 by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

“Heads of local administrations [near the proposed radar site] are planning to ask Obama to pay attention not only to the position of the central government of this country, but also to the opinion expressed by local residents,” said Giulietto Chiesa, who is visiting the Czech Republic on behalf of another 18 European MP who oppose U.S. missile shield plans for Central Europe.

According to recent public opinion polls, two-thirds of Czechs are against the planned stationing of a U.S. missile defense radar base on Czech soil.

The radar is part of a planned missile shield system that would also include the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The U.S. says it needs the Central European shield to protect against attacks by “rogue states” such as Iran.

The plans are fiercely opposed by Russia, which sees the missile shield as a threat to its national security.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on November 5 that Russia would deploy high-precision Iskander-M guided missile systems in its westernmost Kaliningrad exclave “to neutralize, if necessary, the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe.”

His speech came the day after U.S. presidential elections.

Kaliningrad borders Poland and Lithuania, both NATO member states. The deployment of Iskander systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) would allow Russia to target almost all territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

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