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Czech Republic, U.S. settle key issues in radar treaty
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20:32, May 15, 2008

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The Czech Republic and the United States have settled issues of jurisdiction, security, personnel affairs, environmental protection and cooperation with NATO concerning the planned U.S. radar base on Czech soil, the Czech Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The Czech Republic will have sovereignty over the radar base and exercise ownership of the radar station, the Ministry said.

The country will provide the defined territory to the Americans for free, but the buildings and immovable objects that the Americans build will become the property of the Czech Republic, the Czech news agency CTK quoted the Ministry as saying.

The Americans, on the other hand, will exercise ownership to movable objects, including the radar.

The treaty provides for a maximum of 250 U.S. soldiers staying at the base during the supposed regular rotations. During a regular operation, the base will be manned by about 100 U.S. soldiers and 20 or so U.S. civilians.

The treaty which is subject to approval by the Czech parliament also deals with visits by foreign officials to the base, including foreign diplomats residing in the Czech Republic.

If a person from a third country asks the United States for approval of their visit to the base, such a visit must first be approved by the Czech Republic.

Visits by Czechs will be approved by the United States while Americans' visits will have to be approved by Czechs.

Four security zones will be built at the planned U.S. radar base, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Furthermore, a no-fly zone will be created above the radar base, CTK said.

Czech military police will guard the external border of the radar base, while the United States will be responsible for the station's internal security, according to the ministry.

The planned U.S. radar on Czech soil and the related silo with 10 missile interceptors in Poland may not be used in any action that is not in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Ministry said.

The Czech Republic can influence plans against possible attacks for its benefit, and can take part in the development of plans such as instructions to use the system of anti-missile protection in Europe and directives for the radar's common operation, the Ministry said.

"We found out during our negotiations that it is not important who pushes the button, but how is the system programmed," Czech Foreign Ministry Security Director Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova told CTK.

Under normal circumstances, the radar will be off. To switch on the radar, the Americans will have to abide by the directives.

During the construction of the base and its operation, the Americans must respect Czech law.

The Czech Republic placed a great emphasis on the protection of the environment while negotiating the radar treaty, Smigolova said, adding that of the Czech and U.S. laws, the stricter ones will be applied.

The United States will be responsible for the possible contamination of nature, and it must work out a study describing the state of the environment before the U.S. soldiers arrive, she added.

According to the ministry, the missile defense system in Europe may be used only if the United States, the Czech Republic or other allies are attacked.

The United States cannot launch an attack if there is no direct threat, it said.

If a fire broke out at the base, firefighters would not need a permit to enter the base, which also applies to the Czech police if they need to arrest a criminal who flees to the base, the ministry said.

The main Czech-U.S. treaty on the radar has been completed, while the talks on the SOFA treaty that defines the legal framework of American soldiers' stay at the planned base still continue.

Both treaties may be signed in June or July, according to the Czech government.

The United States plans to build a radar base at the Brdy military district, some 90 km southwest of the Czech capital Prague, along with an interceptor missile base in Poland, but Warsaw has yet to agree to the plan.

Russia is strongly opposed to the deployment of the system, saying the plan poses a threat to its strategic interests. Some 70percent of Czech citizens also oppose the project.

Source: Xinhua

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