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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 3, 2009
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Controversy Over Patriot Missiles
June 3, 2009 By W.Ż.    
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Difficult negotiations surround the expected deployment of an American Patriot missile battery in Poland amid speculation the country will get missiles intended for exercise purposes only.

According to American government sources, there are differences between the U.S. administration and the Polish government over the interpretation of the August 2008 agreement on the deployment of a Patriot missile battery to Poland. The agreement was signed by Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice together with an agreement on the deployment in Poland of interceptor missiles as part of America's planned so-called missile shield.

"I will expect full information from Minister Sikorski and Defense Minister Bogdan Klich on the phase of negotiations with the Americans concerning the deployment of Patriot missiles to Poland," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said May 24 after the media reported that the missiles may not have operational capability.

The aim of the American missile shield project is to protect the United States from long-range missiles launched from countries such as Iran that Washington regards as "rogue states." The Patriot missiles agreement was supposed to increase Poland's defense capabilities, especially regarding its capital Warsaw, against short- and medium-range missiles.

Stanisław Komorowski, deputy defense minister and one of Poland's chief negotiators on Poland's military cooperation with the United States, has said that Polish-American talks are proceeding as planned and will be finalized in July. The talks are supposed to lead to the deployment in Poland of 100-110 U.S. troops and 96 missiles by the end of the year.

The U.S. Department of State has confirmed that the Patriot missile battery will be deployed in Poland regardless of what happens with plans for the missile shield system. Ian Kelly, spokesman for the Department of State, has said the Patriot battery will be set up in Poland as part of measures to modernize the Polish armed forces and as a result of the August 2008 agreement on military cooperation.

But a Pentagon spokeswoman said the battery will be deployed in Poland only for training and exercise purposes. This means that Poland may receive missiles without operational capability and thus could not be used for combat purposes. A Patriot missile battery would be deployed in Poland on a permanent basis in 2012.

According to other reports, the missiles intended for Poland would not have warheads. It is unclear whether these parts would be stored in a U.S. base in a country bordering Poland, for example Germany, or in other Polish bases, to be installed in the Patriot missiles in case of a military threat

The Polish defense ministry has denied these speculations. "We are bound by the provisions of the agreement already concluded, details are still negotiated by the Polish and American sides. We do not confirm that the missiles would be installed only for training purposes," Robert Rochowicz, defense ministry spokesman said.

The cost of one Patriot battery ranges from $3 billion to $5 billion, depending on missile type and additional equipment.
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