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NATO urges missile-defense system in Europe

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as vice chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, announced Tuesday that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution to a create an anti-ballistic, missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

The missile-interception system will include a radar detection site in the Czech Republic, and a ground-based missile-defense site in Poland, which will be manned by 1,300 U.S. and NATO troops.

The defense system is meant to guard against possible attacks from Iran, which Scott says, is moving closer to intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

"The threat from Iran is very real," said Scott. "In six to seven years, [Iran] will have a missile capable of reaching the United States. We cannot sit on our hands and not have a defense against that."

Scott said Iran is already in possession of, and currently modifying, the Shahab 3 -- a medium-range missile with the ability to strike Israel and Turkey, both major allies of the United States.

He added that several "non-state actors," such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other rogue regimes were developing ballistic-missile capability as a reason for having the defense system.

"Iraq is diverting our attention away from this threat ... and this is a serious threat," said Scott. "Iran says that it is developing nuclear technology for peaceful means ... but we know better. [These missiles] are interceptors. They will go up and destroy an offensive missile."

Scott shared this report on Tuesday, after returning from the fall meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which took place from Oct. 5-9 in Reykjavik, Iceland. During the meeting, how to combat global warming throughout the 26 NATO countries, and other issues were also discussed. But Iran was "the major issue of the day," according to Scott.

An overwhelming number of NATO members passed the missile defense resolution -- which would go into effect immediately -- with only Norway and Russia disagreeing, Scott said..

Russia was adamantly against the missile defense shield, fearing that it would instigate a new arms race between the United States and Russia. Russia also threatened to pull out of several major arms-control treaties, if NATO went forward with the missile-defense plan, according to Scott.

"They are just rattling sabers," said Scott. "Russia is very much opposed. They feel like it jeopardizes them, but we have a right to respond to this threat from Iran."

Scott said recent, tighter, economic sanctions on Iran, as well as NATO's recent branding of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, may cause unrest in Iran's large, educated middle-class, and eventually bring a peaceful end to the country's nuclear ambitions.

"War solves nothing, but creates the next war," said Scott. "We're still hopeful that diplomacy with Iran ... will work to reduce Iran's capacity for weapons of mass destruction, but we can't take that chance ... the missile defense is a good step."