Vondra: Computers in Prague will not strengthen our defense

Czech Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra

From Alexandr Vondra, the Czech Foreign Ministry:  When I became the Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic almost a year ago, I inherited unfinished negotiations with the United States about the placement of the terminals of the Shared Early Warning System (SEWS) for the detection of launched ballistic missiles on our territory. . . .

The SEWS was not supposed to be a military base, an operation center, or a command center for the US missile defense system in Europe. The SEWS was presented to the Czech Republic following the Obama administration’s cancellation of the previous missile defense project, which was to place a radar on our territory.

The offer consisted of the placement of two computer terminals within the facilities of the Czech Republic’s army, via which we would have access almost in real time to information regarding the launch of ballistic missiles as detected by American sensors.

The Americans would cover the annual cost in the approximate amount of 17 million Czech Crowns during the first two years and then we would take over the expenses.

We intensively negotiated for several months about the SEWS and evaluated the offer in the context of the development of the negotiations regarding the future of missile defense within NATO. As new information came in, we assessed that the offered SEWS terminals will neither be utilized within the NATO framework nor the new US missile defense system, which reckons with placing interceptors in Romania and Poland and a radar in Turkey. Succinctly said, we would receive passive information regarding a possible missile launch but the system would not be interlinked to allow for active defense against such missiles. . . .

Said differently: we will have access to the same information within the NATO framework even without the SEWS in Prague. The bilateral offer given before Lisbon regarding terminals of early warning was surpassed by the developments in the Alliance. The reason for our decision was not that we succumbed to whatever pressure from the Russians.  (photo: Czech Ministry of Defense)

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