Hagel announces changes to European missile defense plans
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced the change in plans to the fourth in a four phase system. Phase one of the system has already been deployed on a ship in the Mediterranean. Phase two, scheduled for 2015, will place interceptors in Romania. Phase three deploys interceptors in Poland beginning in 2018, Associated Press reports.
Stage four, however, has not received Congressional funding and there are major doubts surrounding the technology, which would enable U.S. territory to be protected from Europe.
Warsaw has said almost nothing about the changes, which to some is an indication the Poles are relieved they will still receive shorter-range interceptors in five years. The Romanian reaction has been similarly muted.
Russian officials said they are still unhappy. Moscow has said the U.S. plan is aimed directly at its missile program and serves to raise tensions with the United States. Washington insists the interceptors are meant to offer protection to its allies from Iran and North Korea.
"We feel no euphoria in connection with what was announced by the U.S. defense secretary and we see no grounds for correcting our position," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Associated Press. "This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such."
Meanwhile, U.S. officials on a visit to Warsaw are attempting to reassure Poland that phase three will continue as originally planned, Associated Press reports.
"For Poland there is no change, because the phase-three system, which was always planned to be in Poland, is still now planned to be in Poland," Madelyn Creedon, the U.S. assistant defense secretary for global strategic affairs, said, according to Associated Press. "It's funded, it's committed. That was our original plan and we haven't changed it."