Czech Republic presents potential site for U.S. radar

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

MISOV (AFP) -- Czech authorities officially presented the proposed site for a U.S. radar to be installed as part of a missile defense system that has provoked outrage from Russia.

The site is located at the Brdy military zone, 65 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Prague, said Tomas Klvana, the government's spokesman on the project, during a visit organized for journalists. Czech military officials chose the site on the forested hill some 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) from the closest village, Tesliny. A group of U.S. specialists are to arrive soon to measure electromagnetic waves and hydrolic conditions, Klvana said. Several garrison buildings, unused since Soviet troops pulled out of the former Czechoslovakia, could be used for the base. In addition to the powerful tracking radar in the Czech Republic, Washington wants to site 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of an extended defense shield against airborne attacks. The project is unpopular in the Czech Republic as well, with a recent poll showing 65 percent of Czechs opposed to it. Seventy-four percent have said they want a referendum on the issue, while Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's government has opted to go through parliament. Opposition is especially strong in areas close to the site, shown through referendums held in several nearby towns. ""People are edgy,"" Pavel Hruby, the mayor of nearby Misov, told AFP. ""They fear for their health. They also fear they will have to move."" A spokesman for Czech's defense ministry called such fears ""unrealistic"" because ""the radar has no impact on health"". Czech specialists will travel to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific later this year to study the effects of a U.S. radar there, Cirtek said. That radar will be transferred to the Czech Republic. --------------Russia offers NATO strategic missile defense partnership Russia has offered to engage NATO in a strategic partnership to counter possible missile threats, a senior foreign ministry official said on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported. “We are offering (NATO) strategic partnership - an international system to neutralize missile threats,” said Anatoly Antonov, director of the foreign ministry security and disarmament department. As an alternative to U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, Russia has proposed the joint use of a radar station that Russia leases from Azerbaijan. Moscow has also offered the joint use of a missile early warning system it is building in the south of the country. Referring to a recent session of the Russia-NATO council, he said discussions would continue in the course of missile defense consultations with the United States in Washington July 30-31. During his recent two-day stay at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush the exchange of information on missile launches and using a radar being built in southern Russia for early missile warnings. -------------Residents of the village of Misov listen to a speaker during a debate about the possible location of the U.S. anti-missiles radar base near their houses. Reuters/Petr Josek(Czech Republic