President-elect Barack Obama has spoken with Polish President Lech Kaczynski about the Bush Administration’s commitment to spend several billion dollars putting 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The controversial plan is certainly a big deal in Poland, but contradicting comments from President Kaczynski and Obama aides leave the new administration’s commitment to the deal uncertain, at best.
According to President Kaczynski’s office, Obama vowed to ‘honor’ the agreement, an odd choice of words considering Poland’s own parliament has yet to ratify the deal. Even more odd however is that comments from Obama aides regarding the conversation insist that the President-elect made absolutely no commitments about the missile plan, but rather said he would support it only if the technology is proven workable.
The Bush Administration has insisted the missile base is vital to protect Europe from hypothetical Iranian missile launches, in spite of the fact that the base is well beyond the range of the best Iranian missile. Russia sees the base as targeting their own arsenal, again in spite of the fact that ten interceptor missiles wouldn’t put a dent in Russia’s missile arsenal.
Russia announced earlier this week that they will be deploying Iskander missiles to their exclave of Kaliningrad, along with electronic jamming equipment meant to counter the future base. Even if Poland approves the deal soon, it is unlikely that the base will be fully operational before the 2012 Presidential election.