Several US officials including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have said Iran’s test launch proves the need for a missile defence shield.
Washington has long been seeking to set up such a system in Europe to prevent attacks from what it calls “rogue states.”
The plan has been fiercely opposed by Russia on the grounds it compromises its own security.
But Rice said on a visit to Bulgaria: “I still hope that Russia will look at the actual
threat environment, look at the fact that the Iranians are developing ever-longer ranges of missiles which they apparently intend to test and that the Russians will see that this is not aimed at them.”
The Czech Republic signed up yesterday to host part of the system, despite Russian threats of possible, even military, action. President Dmitri Medvedev will now consider his next step. He announced earlier. “It is completely obvious that, after the signing of the agreement, a new stage in implementing the idea of the missile shield has started. We are extremely upset by this situation.”
Poland had been pencilled in to share the system with the Czechs, and while it has so far refused the terms proposed by Washington, talks continue. A Polish presidential aid has said Russia’s aggressive rhetoric proves the need for closer cross-Atlantic security ties.