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Czechs: No Concrete Plans for US Anti-Missile Base

The Czech Republic has received "no concrete proposal" from the US for locating an anti´-Missile defense base on Czech soil. According to reports, US officials plan the base as protection against an Iranian attack.

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Soon to come to eastern Europe, courtesy of Washington?

"The location of this US anti-rocket base on the territory of some European state is just an idea, there is no concrete proposal," Andrej Cirtek, a spokesman for the Czech ministry of defense, told AFP on Monday.

Cirtek was responding to an article in Monday's edition of The New York Times that said US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was expected to make a recommendation this summer on the site for the Europe-based defense system. The Czech Republic and Poland are both under consideration, the paper reported.

Should the system be based in Poland, it would be the first permanent US military installation in the former communist country. Russian officials reportedly oppose this, fearing that Washington could extend its influence over eastern Europe.

Adjusti n g to n ew threat from Ira n

Logo USA Programm zu Raketenabwehr Behörde

US Missile Defense Agency seal

The New York Times said the US administration's proposal calls for installing 10 missile interceptors at a European site by 2011. The final cost, including the interceptors themselves, is estimated at $1.6 billion (1.25 billion euros). US Department of Defense officials have reportedly already asked Congress to approve $56 million in initial funding for the project.

The Washi n gto n Times and I n ter n atio n al Herald Tribu n e reported in March that a deal on the anti-missile site was close to being signed.

The latest New York Times article, citing unnamed Pentagon officials, said the missiles based at the site would protect the US and its European allies from Iranian attack. So far, anti-missile systems exist in Alaska and California and are meant to protect the US against an attack from North Korea.

Lo n g-term project

Cirtek said the anti-missile site has been the subject of discussions between experts from US and their European counterparts at NATO for several years.

"As for a concrete project, there is nothing to negotiate," he added.

Panorama Prag

Czech leaders in Prague would have to approve the project

Establishment of a foreign base on Czech soil would require approval from more than half of the total number of elected representatives in both houses of the Czech parliament, the lower house and the Senate, Cirtek added.

The Czech Republic is currently in the throes of a general election with polling on June 2 and 3.

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