WARSAW, Poland — Standing alongside U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Poland’s prime minister said today that his country is ready to participate in the Obama’s administration’s revamped plan for a U.S. missile defense shield in Europe.
Obama removed a major irritant in relations with Russia last month by scrapping U.S. plans to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic — deployments Moscow treated as a threat. The Kremlin has praised Obama for the decision, but Russian officials also have said they want to know details about what system the U.S. will put in place instead.
In Warsaw, Prime Minister Donald Tusk welcomed the U.S. proposal for a missile shield that would replace a bulkier version previously planned for Poland.
“I want to stress that Poland views … the new configuration for the missile shield as very interesting, necessary, and we are ready at the appropriate scale to participate,” Tusk said at a news conference with Biden.
The Obama administration scrapped a Bush-era plan that would have put 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic to intercept long-range missiles launched from so-called “rogue” states such as Iran.
Instead, the Obama administration has proposed a reconfigured system that envisions putting the U.S. Navy’s Standard Missile-3 on ships and land-based versions in Europe. The Pentagon says the anti-ballistic missile is the most technically advanced and cost-effective way to counter Iran’s anticipated arsenal.
Biden, who is on the first stop of a three-nation trip to eastern Europe aimed at reassuring Washington’s allies in the region of its support, praised Warsaw for its support and interest in the revamped plan.
“We appreciate Poland has stepped up and agreed to host an element of the previous missile defense plan, and we now appreciate that Poland’s government agrees with us that there is now a better way … with new technology and new information, to defend against emerging ballistic missile threats,” Biden said.
Sketching out the administration’s vision for the missile defense, Biden said the new approach would meet “a growing threat” to the U.S. and Europe.
“It’s going to meet it with proven technology that will cover more of Europe, including Poland, and will do it more efficiently than the previous system could have or did,” he said.
“Simply put, our missile plan is better security for NATO and is better security for Poland.”