US Considering Anti-Missile Bases In Turkey

0827missileWARSAW (Agence France Presse)—Washington will scrap plans to put anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and is looking at alternatives including Israel and Turkey, a Polish newspaper reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials.

The U.S. plan, intended for defense against attacks from Iran, has met with fierce objections from Russia, which regarded the eastern European bases as a threat to its own security.

Leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza cited administration officials and lobbyists in Washington in support of its story.

Pro-missile shield lobbyist Riki Ellison said the signals from the Pentagon were “absolutely clear”, with U.S. authorities scouting for alternatives sites, the paper reported.

No immediate comment was available from U.S., Polish or Czech officials.

Gazeta Wyborcza said Washington was now considering deploying anti-missile interceptors on naval vessels and at bases in Israel and Turkey, as well as potentially in the Balkans.

Ellison told the paper that a conference last week, U.S. generals “never once” mentioned the plan, which was initiated by the previous U.S. administration of President George W. Bush.

After taking office this year, Bush’s successor Barack Obama launched a review of the controversial system.

Gazeta Wyborcza cited a source at the U.S. Congress, whom it did not identify, as saying that Washington had been “testing the water” among lawmakers for weeks about scrapping the eastern European part of the plan.

In 2008, Warsaw and Washington struck a deal on deploying 10 U.S. long-range interceptor missiles in Poland as part of a global air-defense system.

The system, which was meant to be operational by 2013, also foresaw a radar base in the Czech Republic, Poland’s southern neighbor.

Washington said the goal was to ward off potential Iranian attacks, pointing to Tehran’s nuclear program.

But Moscow condemned what it said was a U.S. threat on its doorstep and threatened to train nuclear warheads on Poland and the Czech Republic.

Warsaw and Prague broke from the crumbling communist bloc in 1989 and joined NATO 10 years later.

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