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US, Czech sign agreement for missile shield


LONDON (BNS): The US and Czech governments on Friday signed an agreement permitting America to place one of the missile defence radars and necessary military personnel in the European nation. The agreement marked yet another step in an aggressive American effort to spread its ballistic missile defense shield closer to the Russian territory.

Moscow has been consistent in expressing its outrage at the ballistic missile defense system’s locations in Poland and Czech Republic, saying they are targeting at a resurgent Russia’s strategic capabilities. America claims the system is aimed at shooting down missiles from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

The Status of Forces Agreement signed by the US secretary of defence Robert Gates and his Czech counterpart is the final step in a yearlong negotiation between the two sides. The agreement provides legal sanction to the presence of US troops and equipment in the Czech Republic. The agreement will have to be ratified by the Czech parliament.

According to US officials, the proposed radar complex would be set up in a military location southwest of Prague. The radar in Czech territory would be aligned with the 10 interceptor missiles to be stationed in Poland.

Czech defence minister Vlasta Parkanova told reporters that the missile shield will contribute to the regional security. The agreement was “the culmination of a process to draw our nations closer and help protect Europe,” Gates said.

Gates said a technical study, to be concluded in November, would decide when to start the construction of the radar complex on Czech soil. Pentagon officials said the construction would take anywhere between two to four years.


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