RIA Novosti

Iran threat behind Poland's interest in missile defense

18:31 06/02/2007

Poland may agree to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on its territory because it perceives a threat from Iran, not Russia or Belarus, Polish military attache Andrzej Lewandowski said Tuesday.

MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Poland may agree to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on its territory because it perceives a threat from Iran, not Russia or Belarus, Polish military attache Andrzej Lewandowski said Tuesday.

Washington officially proposed January 20 placing a radar network in the Czech Republic, and two days later announced plans to begin formal talks with Poland on the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems on its territory.

"A threat from Iran will appear in five to six years," he told journalists in Moscow.

Lewandowski said many experts think Iran will have ballistic missiles with a range of over 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) by 2010-2013. A missile defense base in Poland, if any, would be built in 2011-2012, he said.

"We are not looking at Russia or Belarus as our enemies," Lewandowski said.

The military attache said the missile defense bases would not be able to counter Russia's military might.

He said his country's leadership supports the plan to deploy the base, whereas polls indicate that 45% of the population is against the deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Poland, and 38% back such developments.

The Polish ambassador in Russia, Jerzy Bahr, also refuted statements that a deployment of American missile defense elements in Poland would be aimed against Russia.

"I can't imagine that the policy Poland conducts could be anti-Russian. It's in our interests to have good relations with our neighbors," he said.

On February 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an annual news conference with Russian and foreign journalists, televised live from the Kremlin, that Washington's arguments were not convincing and that Russia considered Washington's plans to be a threat to its national security.

He said that should the U.S. proceed with its intentions, Russia would respond decisively.

"We must think, and are thinking, of ways to ensure our national security," Putin said. "All our responses will be asymmetric but highly effective."

© RIA Novosti