The American decision to scrap its missile shield based in eastern Europe was based on a revised intelligence report that said Iran was much further behind in long-range weapons development than at first thought. But welcoming the Czech defence minister to Arlington in Virginia, his US counterpart Robert Gates said things could change.
“What we have seen with the Iranians is that they are producing and deploying significant numbers of short- and medium-range missiles, and so they could overwhelm even when the ten interceptors were in place, a salvo like that could overwhelm it so this I think provides significantly more protection should the intelligence forecast be wrong,” Gates said. The original Bush administration plan was to have part of the missile shield based in the Czech Republic. The country’s defence minister Martin Bartak said: “The main message for my home would be that missile defense doesn’t end here. Actually we’re going to re-evaluate, cooperate and work out a way how the Czech Republic can be involved in future missile defense as well.” Russia’s envoy to NATO said that without the US missiles shield on Czech and Polish soil, there was no need for Russian missiles in Kaliningrad. A source at the Kremlin said America’s decision opens the door to greater cooperation on arms reduction.