Obama Abandons 'Star Wars' Shield on Russian Border

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

BARACK OBAMA today ditched a plan to build a "Star Wars" missile shield in eastern Europe in a move which was an olive branch to both Russian and Iran.

The US president axed the scheme, vehemently opposed by Moscow, to station interceptor rockets and radar stations in Poland the Czech Republic.

It had been claimed to be vital by his predecessor George W Bush, who wanted it as a defence against Iranian longrange missiles. But today Mr Obama said the scheme was not needed as Iran was not as advanced in its missile development as had been thought. Mr Obama said a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles.

He said: "Our new missile defence architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter and swifter defences of American forces and America's allies.

It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost effective, and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the US homeland."

The move, less than two weeks before talks with Iran on disarmament, will reduce tensions between Washington and Tehran, as well as with the Kremlin. …