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The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, says Russian observers will only be allowed at a planned American radar base in central Bohemia with the permission of the Czech Republic. He made the comments following reports that the US had offered Moscow even more access to the facility than previously envisaged. Mr Topolánek said such access was not included in treaties between Washington and Prague; he said no change could be made without Czech agreement. The prime minister also indicated that the Czech Parliament will now vote on ratifying radar treaties with the US following the inauguration in January of the next American president.

Tensions mounted this week after the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, announced his intention to deploy short-range missiles near the Polish border; Poland is set to host missile interceptors linked to the radar in the Czech Republic.

Poland’s foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, said on Friday that the whole fate of the project depended on the speed of ratification by the Czechs. While Poland’s parliament is expected to approve a missile base without much opposition, Mr Sikorski said Czech ratification had become a more distant prospect.

The president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, issued a statement saying that Barack Obama had promised him the US would continue with plans to build the anti-missile system when he takes office. However, an aide to Mr Obama later said no such commitment had been made.

Meanwhile, the main Czech opposition party, the Social Democrats, have said they will push for the lower house of Parliament to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on whether treaties already signed with the Americans are in line with the Czech constitution. The Social Democrats, who are opposed to the radar, say the constitution makes allowance for the short-term deployment of foreign soldiers on Czech soil, but not for an indefinite period. They would also like ratification to require a constitutional – or three-fifths – majority.