Czech Republic to host part of new missile defence shield

Foto: Missile Defense Agency

The Czech Republic is likely to host part of the US anti-missile defence shield in Europe. The American administration has officially asked the US Congress to fund the early warning program. Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas confirmed the news on Friday, saying that the new centre could be positioned in Prague or in its vicinity. If approved, the project could be launched before the end of the year.

Petr Nečas,  photo: CTK
Less than a year after US President Barack Obama scrapped plans to place a tracking radar base in the Czech Republic as part of the American missile defence shield, his administration has come up with a new plan to include the Czech Republic in its anti-missile programme. The Pentagon on Wednesday asked the US Congress for 2.2 million dollars for a program designed to provide a U.S.-Czech early warning capability. Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas spoke about the new plan on Friday.

“After the change in the concept of missile defence, negotiations have continued about involving US allies into the program. The new program should eventually be part of the NATO missile defence. It’s no super military installation or an army base; the centre should gather information and pass it on.”

Daniel Anýž from the daily Hospodářské noviny which broke the story explains how the system should work.

Daniel Anýž
“It’s called the Early Warning Program, and it’s a tiny part of the whole missile defence structure which President Obama plans for Europe as a missile shield. It should consist of two offices with computers and other technical equipment that would gather data on potential incoming missiles, on their targets and the possible affected areas. These data would then be passed on to radars and other parts of the missile shield.”

The early warning centre should be operated by the Czech military. That is one of the reasons the Czech government might not have to ask Parliament for approval. The opposition Social Democrats said on Friday they have no major objections to the idea – but Daniel Anýž believes Mr Nečas should take the matter to the Czech Parliament anyway.

Illustrative photo
“There is probably no need to bring this new deal to Parliament because it should be covered by the SOFA agreement which has already been signed and there is no need for ratification by Parliament. But even if the government decides to go to Parliament with this – and I think it would be better to get this kind of approval – my estimate would be that the MPs would pass it. Even the opposition Social Democrats – though not the communists of course – I think would approve it.”

The Czech initiative No to Bases campaigned strongly against the former plans to build a radar base in this country and gathered around 170,000 signatures on a petition calling for the project to be scrapped. The initiative’s spokesman Jan Májíček says they are ready to swing into action again.

Jan Májíček,  photo: personal archive
“For us, it follows the same logic as the former plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic because the US still argues that it is against Iran. We said that was nonsense; Iran has no capability and interest to attack Europe, and we see it just as a means of American dominance in central Europe.”

Are you planning any protests? Are you going to renew your activities in connection with the latest news?

“Definitely. We are now in the middle of preparations for protests against this plan and we will use any opportunity to protest because we believe it’s very important. I’d like to say that 70 percent of Czech citizens disagreed with the former plan to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, and this station, or a new base, is supposed to be established without the approval of the Czech Parliament; it will probably be just an agreement between the Czech and US governments. That is absolutely unacceptable.”

The original plans of the administration of George W. Bush for positioning a radar base in the Czech Republic were also vigorously opposed by Russia. Officials in Moscow have not yet commented on the new plan.