Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Poland/Israel

Israel has agreed to sell Poland 350 million dollars worth of missiles.

After going out on a limb as one of the United States' staunchest allies in the war in Iraq, Poland is starting to see some payback. The latest reward comes not from the US but from Israel in the form of a ten-year missile contract valued at around $350 million.

The anti-tank "Spike LR" missiles, which can be shoulder-fired, will be produced in Poland under license from the state-owned Israeli Rafael arms corporation by the Polish firm Mesko, reports the Associated Press. This deal, which will help bring Poland's Soviet-era missile program up to NATO standards, will also "give Mesko financial breathing room after a decade of losses," reports AP.

As The Jerusalem Post reports, "the deal was so important for Poland that [its] Minister of National Defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski was on hand to sign it" in Skarzysko Kamienna, 90 miles south of Warsaw.

According to the Post, the Israeli Defense Force "has used the Spike and various derivatives for a number of years," including in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. Director general of Israel's Defense Ministry Amos Yaron pointed out that "this decision is not confined solely to the industrial sphere but rather reflects a strategic choice that will hopefully pave the way for a further enhancement of Polish-Israeli defense relations."


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