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Rice signs missile shield deal with Poland

Latest update : 2008-08-20

The United States and Poland signed a US missile shield deal Wednesday, intended to ward off an Iranian or North Korean attack. Russia has protested vociferously against the deal, which would base 10 US interceptor missiles in Poland.

Warsaw and Washington signed a deal Wednesday to deploy part of a US missile shield in Poland, insisting the aim is to ward off Iranian attacks, despite deep Russian anger at the move.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski inked the accord at an official ceremony in Warsaw.

"This will help us to deal with the new threats of the 21st century, of long-range missile threats from countries like Iran or from North Korea," Rice told reporters ahead of the ceremony.

"It is defensive and is not aimed at anyone. It is nonetheless a system that establishes firmly again, and reaffirms, our cooperation and relationship with Poland. It will deepen our defence cooperation and it will deepen our ability to deal with threats," she said.

Washington plans between 2011 to 2013 to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighbouring Czech Republic -- both NATO members since 1999 -- to complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain.   

Russia has refused to accept the US argument that the missile shield, which was endorsed by all 26 NATO member states earlier this year, is meant to fend off potential missile attacks by what Washington calls "rogue states".

Moscow had already dubbed the shield a security threat designed to undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent.

"We will be forced to respond to this adequately. The EU and US have been warned," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last month as the missile talks moved to a close.

Last week, Russia's General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Poland was making itself a target "100 percent".

Washington and Prague sealed the radar deal in July.

Both accords must still be ratified by Polish and Czech parliaments.

Date created : 2008-08-20