Tags: missile | defense | obama

Pentagon to Obama: Anti-Missile System Will Work

Thursday, 13 Nov 2008 07:36 AM

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WASHINGTON – The Pentagon's missile defense chief Trey Obering said Wednesday he looked forward to reporting to Barack Obama that the US anti-missile system is "workable," and to setting the president-elect's mind at ease.

The anti-missile defense system - which preliminary tests have shown is capable of shooting down ballistic missiles - "is workable," Obering, who heads the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters by teleconference.

"Our testing has shown not only can we hit a bullet with a bullet, we can hit a spot on a bullet with a bullet," the lieutenant general added.

After the US presidential election on November 4, Obama's foreign policy advisor Dennis McDonough said Obama "made no committment" on US plans to install a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, under an August 14 agreement signed by President George W. Bush's administration.

"His position is, as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable," McDonough said.

Obering said he and colleagues "are standing by to answer questions from (Obama's) transition team," which is expected to visit the Pentagon in the next few days.

"Our prime objective is going to be to educate them on what we have accomplished.... Those who have not been involved in this over the years... need to be updated," he added.

Obering, who will resign his post at the end of November, warned that abandoning the missile shield in central Europe "would severely hurt our ability to protect our forces in that region."

He also said timing was a vital issue. "We can't wait until we see the Iranians fly an ICBM," or intercontinental ballistic missile.

The United States wants to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in neighboring Czech Republic by 2011-2013 to complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain.

Washington says the shield -- endorsed by NATO in February -- is aimed at fending off potential attacks by so-called "rogue states" such as Iran, and is in no way aimed at Russia.

But Russia sees the system as a threat to its own security. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would abandon plans to deploy missiles on the EU's doorstep in Kaliningrad if the US scraps its plans to base part of the missile shield in Europe.

Polish lawmakers have yet to ratify the US missile defense deal while the Czech government has called for a delay in a final vote on its radar agreements until Obama's inauguration on January 20.

© 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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