Russia wants presence at Czech missile defence sites

October 21st, 2008 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Oct 21 (RIA Novosti) Russia has said it will stop opposing the US-sponsored anti-missile radar system in the Czech Republic if Russian observers are permanently posted at the facilities. Only this (the permanent deployment of Russian observers) could end Russia’s objection to the project, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists Monday.

“A one-off visit would not change anything, but only increase our suspicions,” he stressed.

The agreement to station a US tracking radar in the Czech Republic was signed July 8 by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

On Sep 19, Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The pact governs the deployment of US military personnel at the radar station.

The radar is part of a planned missile shield system which would also include the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The US 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 and the international system of nuclear deterrence.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to “respond appropriately” to the deployment of the missile shield.

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