Obama says no to missile shield in Europe

George W. Bush’s defense system is scrapped

In “one of the biggest national security reversals by the new administration,” Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would call off the sophisticated missile defense program in Europe planned by George W. Bush – instead putting in place a more modest system aimed at intercepting short to medium-range missiles. “President Bush was right that Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat,” Obama told reporters, referring to the original rationale behind the plan. But he said new intelligence indicates that Tehran is more likely to develop short or medium-range missiles than intercontinental ones – something his new plan better guards against. Not everyone is happy. “Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system does little more then empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe,” said Republican representative John A. Boehner of Ohio. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates – a Republican first appointed by Bush – insists the new proposal “provides a better missile defense capability than the program [he] recommended almost three years ago.” Anticipating anxiety in Europe over the switch, Obama arranged a late-night call to the Czech PM and early-morning conference with Poland’s PM.

The New York Times

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