Polish top official: Early warning radar in Azerbaijan could not trace the full trajectory of a missile

Polish top official: Early warning radar in Azerbaijan could not trace the full trajectory of a missile
# 27 June 2007 08:57 (UTC +04:00)
In an interview with The Associated Press, Waszczykowski said that the two sides were moving quickly despite a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to freeze talks while the U.S. considers a proposal he made to relocate the interceptors planned for Poland and a radar to be built in the Czech Republic.
Putin, who has vehemently opposed the U.S. plans in Central Europe, surprised President Bush at the recent meeting of the Group of Eight major industrialized countries, by proposing the shared use of a Russia-rented early warning radar in Azerbaijan. The two leaders are to discuss their differences this weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine,.
Waszczykowski said that Poland viewed Putin’s proposal as a ruse to stall talks between the U.S. and Poland and the Czech Republic.
"I think it was an intentional effort to block or freeze the discussion," he said. "It was a smart idea by Putin to make things fuzzy."
Bush has agreed to consider Putin’s proposal, but his administration has made it clear that it would not slow plans for the project in Poland and the Czech Republic - former Soviet satellites that are now NATO members.
Moscow has said that it does not believe Washington’s assurances that the planned facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are meant to counter a potential threat from Iran, suggesting that they are intended to weaken Russia’s arsenal.
But Waszczykowski suggested that Putin’s proposal to rearrange the infrastructure for a shield against Iran was a tacit admission that a threat exists.
"He put himself in a trap, because he can no longer argue that there is no threat," Waszczykowski.
Russia officials have said that while they do not believe that Iran will have the capability to reach Europe with ballistic missiles for many years, Putin’s proposal would serve to answer both U.S. fears of Iranian missiles and Russian fears of a U.S. missile defense shield.
Waszczykowski said that Poland did not object to U.S.-Russian discussions on the radar in Azerbaijan while plans to install the interceptors in Poland proceed. He said that if negotiators reached a deal by September, it would be possible to begin construction for the interceptors by February.
He added that the radar in Azerbaijan could supplement the system’s capabilities.
"It is an outdated radar," he said. "It could serve as a first warning radar, but could not trace the full trajectory of a missile." /APA/