Missile Umbrella

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 16, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Missile Umbrella

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Missile umbrella

Over breakfast at the Heritage Foundation, the deputy prime minister of the Czech Republic looked out at the rain falling on Washington yesterday and decided it was a perfect metaphor for missile defense.

"Imagine two friends walking in the rain. One has an umbrella, and one does not," Alexandr Vondra said in a speech after breakfast, adding that the one with the umbrella has an advantage over his friend who is getting wet.

"Today," he added, "we need a bigger umbrella."

Mr. Vondra reaffirmed his government's support for U.S. plans to build a missile-defense radar system in the Czech Republic, despite opposition from a majority of Czech citizens. An opinion poll in July found 65 percent of Czechs object to the radar system. However, the resistance might be weakening.

On a Washington visit last week, Jiri Paroubek, leader of the opposition Social Democrats in parliament, said he could drop his objections to the system if Iran's "virtual" threat becomes a reality.

The Bush administration wants to install 10 missile interceptors in Poland as part of a defense system against threats from Iran, which is believed to be developing a nuclear-weapons program and long-range missiles that could hit Europe.

He conceded that the program has only "moderate support" among the public but had "no doubt" that the Czech parliament will approve the radar system, which he called a matter of "national security." He also warned of the consequences of abandoning the project for Europe, while the U.S. proceeds with a missile defense along its West Coast to prevent attacks from North Korea.

"There must be missile defense for all of us, not just for the United States," he said.

The ambassador dismissed objections from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has denounced the missile-defense system and threatened to retarget Russian missiles at Europe.

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