Warsaw: Poland wants a clear answer from Washington on plans to deploy part of a US anti-missile shield and a battery of Patriot missiles on Polish soil under a 2008 deal, the government said Friday.
“We’re still lacking an essential, clear response as to whether the United States will go ahead with the shield plan. It’s a fundamental question to which we need a definite answer,” government spokesman Pawel Gras said on the Polish rolling news station TVN24.
“On our side we’ve met the pledges in this deal. The land (for the base) is ready and waiting,” he said.
After more than a year of painstaking negotiations, Warsaw and Washington struck a deal in 2008 on deploying 10 long-range interceptor missiles in Poland.
According to the previous US administration of George W. Bush the system — meant to be in operation by 2013, and also including a powerful targeting radar in the Czech Republic — was aimed to help foil threats from what it dubbed “rogue states” citing Iran.
But Moscow was enraged by the plans in its Soviet-era sphere of influence, and threatened to train nuclear warheads on Poland and the Czech Republic, which broke free from the communist bloc in 1989 and joined NATO 10 years later.
In 2008, Warsaw and Washington signed a related accord on boosting Poland’s air defences by deploying Patriot missiles.
Gras underlined that Warsaw was still waiting for the “United States to make good on the promise by the new administration, independently of the shield plan, to deploy a battery of Patriot missiles”.
In April, US President Barack Obama said he would move forward with the missile defence plan developed by the previous administration as long as a missile threat from Iran persisted. But he said the system must be cost-effective and proven to work.
Last month Washington insisted it would push ahead with the Patriot deployment regardless of what happened to the anti-missile plan.
But Poland has since been riled by the US side, the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported.
Rzeczpospolita said that the United States had proposed to temporarily transfer a Patriot battery to Poland, destined only for exercises.
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, Poland’s Defence Minister Bogan Klich underlined that Warsaw wanted “a fully-equipped battery which could be integrated into the operational air-defence system”.
Poland is not an “arms fair” where the US can deploy shop-window hardware, Klich was quoted as saying by Poland’s PAP news agency.