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Czech MPs may launch ratification of U.S. shield deal in Nov.

16:17 01/10/2008
PRAGUE, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Czech parliament may begin discussions on the ratification of a Czech-U.S. missile defense treaty in November, the speaker of the lower house of parliament said on Wednesday.

The agreement to station a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic was signed on July 8 by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

"We expect the Czech government to submit to us all the documents necessary for the ratification of the missile defense agreements in November of this year," said Miloslav Vlcek.

The Czech MP said the ratification process would be "hard going", and that the outcome was impossible to predict.

He said the missile defense agreement could be "passed by parliament by a margin of one or two votes, if at all."

He also added that "two-thirds of the country's citizens object to the placement of a U.S. radar station on its soil."

U.S. military experts started talks in Prague on the deployment of a missile-defense radar in the Czech Republic last Wednesday.

On September 19, Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The pact governs the deployment of U.S. military personnel at the radar station.

The radar is part of a planned missile shield system which would also include the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The U.S. says it needs the Central European shield to protect against attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

The plans are fiercely opposed by Russia, which sees the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the international system of nuclear deterrence.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to "respond appropriately" to the deployment of the missile shield.

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RIA NovostiCzech MPs may launch ratification of U.S. shield deal in Nov.

16:17 01/10/2008 The Czech parliament may begin discussions on the ratification of a Czech-U.S. missile defense treaty in November, the speaker of the lower house of parliament said on Wednesday. >>

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