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The United States has proposed delaying the activation of its proposed missile defense sites in Europe

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The United States has proposed delaying the activation of its proposed missile defense sites in Europe

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The United States has proposed delaying the activation of its proposed missile defense sites in Europe until it has proof of a threat from Iran. That is part of a range of propositions by US defence secretary Robert Gates to try to win Moscow’s cooperation in its controversial project. The Kremlin opposes the system fearing it would represent a threat to its security.

Robert Gates said: “The idea was that we would go forward with the negotiations, we would complete the negotiations, we would develop the sites, build the sites but perhaps we would delay activating them until there was concrete proof of the threat from Iran.”

Critics say no such system is needed as no country in the Middle East including Iran possesses a ballistic missile with sufficient range to threaten Europe or the United States.

But that, according to US president George W Bush, is just a question of time: “The need for missile defence in Europe is real and I believe it’s urgent. Iran is pursuing the technology that could be used to produce nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles have increasing range that could deliver them”.

Under the plan, the US would place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of a shield it says is necessary to counter possible attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.