Obama Abandons 'Star Wars' Shield on Russian Border

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Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

AMERICA will ditch plans to build a "Star Wars" missile defence system in eastern Europe which put it at loggerheads with Russia.

Barack Obama's administration will cancel the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which George W Bush said was vital to counter the threat from "rogue states".

The system would have used radars to detect missiles then launched counter-attack rockets to bring them down.

Poland was to host interceptor launch stations and the Czech Republic a radar station. But Russia objected to the scheme, which it saw as intruding on its sphere of interest and targeting it rather than Iran or North Korea.

The Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, warned last year that "we will not be hysterical about this, but we will think of retaliatory steps".

Today it emerged that Presi-denObama's officials will say the threat from Iran is not as serious as had been thought.

The decision is based on a "determination that Iran's longrange missile programme has not progressed as rapidly as estimated, reducing the threat to the continental US and major European capitals," the Wall Street Journal reported. The finding will come in a review that formally reports in Washington early next week. …