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A view of the the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture standing in front of the Olympic Stadium on July 4, 2012 in London, England. The British Ministry of Defense is looking to place missiles on the tops of apartment buildings around Olympic venues for added security during the Games.

Jeff Horwich: We're getting close to the summer Olympic games in London -- and of course things are not proceeding without a few hiccups. In London residents of some apartment buildings are upset that the British military plans to put anti-aircraft weapons on their roofs during the games. The tenants of Fred Wigg Tower in East London say the Ministry of Defense did not properly consult them before deciding to mount missiles on their buildings.

Rob Broomby is the BBC's British Affairs correspondent, and he joins me from London. Hello.

Rob Broomby: Hi Jeff.

Horwich: First of all, why does the British military need surface-to-air missiles on the roofs of apartment buildings?

Broomby: Well a city like London, as you would imagine, already has substantial air defenses for normal times. But the view is, during the Olympic period, they need to be absolutely sure that those Olympic venues are safe. But also to send a message both to the public -- that they are doing everything necessary to protect the people of London and the people visiting the Olympics -- but also to send out a warning, if you like, to any potential plotters, that these things are in place and any airborne threats will be very severely dealt with. 

Horwich: Why would these particular buildings have been chosen?

Broomby: Largely because of the line of sight that they have -- the splendid views over the Olympic sites, particularly the airspace surrounding those. This is all a part of a very large series of programs put in place, defense in debt, if you like, one after the other. 

Horwich: I'm sure the folks in these buildings are wondering, why us specifically? And what are the concerns, what's the scenario that they fear here?

Broomby: Well, as I said, the main one is simply that they fear by having a military establishment on their roof, if you like, they become a target themselves for would-be terrorists to, I don't know, plant a car bomb outside in the street. There's also an additional fear that if these missiles were launched, they've claimed in court this morning that parts could fly off, set fire to buildings, et cetera. Now I have to say the Ministry of Defense is speaking in court this morning and have said that there is no terror threat to the blocks and no risk of an accident and that these decisions have been taken at the highest level with proper consideration.

Horwich: The BBC's Rob Broomby in London, thank you very much. 

Broomby: Thank you.

 

 

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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