With Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Europe this week, one of the areas of discussion will likely be the status of the previous administration's proposal to base missile defense interceptors in Poland and an early warning radar in the Czech Republic, an issue that the Obama administration has pledged to review. When asked about it during an impromptu briefing en route to Krakow yesterday, Gates said:
I think that the message will be the same message that the vice president delivered in Munich: We are concerned about the Iranian missile threat and as long as that threat exists we will continue to pursue missile defense, as long as we know it will work, as long as we can make sure it works and that it's cost effective, and we want to pursue it in partnership not only with our NATO allies but also with the Russians. And frankly my -- I am hopeful that -- with a new start that maybe there are some opportunities with the Russians that we can pursue.
. . . The other fact of life is that by law we cannot begin construction on either the site in the Czech Republic or in Poland until both the ((Status-of-Forces Agreement)) and the missile defense agreements are ratified by both of their parliaments. So even if we had a different policy, we couldn't do anything until they do something.