U.S., Poland sign amended missile defense pact despite Russian objections

The United States and Poland on Saturday signed an amendment to an agreement that allows for the basing of U.S. missile interceptors in the Central European country.

The signature of the amended agreement comes amid Russian objections to a U.S. missile defense system in Europe. The United States has repeatedly said that the interceptors in Europe are meant to parry the nuclear threat from Iran and Russia has nothing to worry about the missile defense system in Europe.

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who witnessed the signing of the amended agreement with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, sought once again to allay Russian concerns and urged the Russians to cooperate in the development of missile defense technologies.

“NATO has encouraged Russia to cooperate and even participate in the missile defense efforts that NATO is undertaking against what we view as common threats,” Clinton said during a press conference following the signing. "Russia has not accepted that offer, but the offer stands.”

The United States is beginning discussions with Russia over whether the two countries can collaborate on radar development and deployment and other aspects of missile defense, Clinton said. The statements were released by the State Department.

Clinton was in Krakow, Poland, on Saturday as part of a five-nation trip to Central Europe and the Caucasus region.

“This agreement marks an important step in our countries’ efforts to protect our NATO allies from the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction,” Clinton said in a joint statement with Prime Minister Sikorski. “This is the first agreement that implements the U.S. European-based Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for ballistic missile defense and enables the stationing of a U.S. land-based SM-3 [Standard Missile-3] missile defense interceptor system in the Republic of Poland.”

The agreed ballistic missile defense site in Poland is scheduled to become operational in a 2018 timeframe and is designed to be a key part of the United States’ European-based missile defense strategy.

The Obama administration last September dropped Bush-era plans to put 10, two-stage ground-based interceptors in Poland, and a related radar site in the Czech Republic.

The Obama administration’s plan is to deploy ships equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis combat system and Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 or SM-3 interceptors to help defend European allies and U.S. forces against threats from Iran and others. The Pentagon is also looking to deploy sensors, such as Raytheon’s Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2).

In 2008, the U.S. Navy successfully shot down a falling and dangerous intelligence satellite with an SM-3 missile from the deck of a cruiser equipped with the Aegis combat system.

The Pentagon also seeks to develop and deploy a ground-based version of the SM-3 and the agreement signed Saturday enables it to be stationed in Poland.