The United States is to scrap its plans to put missile defence bases in Europe. President Barack Obama announced an overhaul of the US missile defence strategy drawn up by his predecessor George W. Bush.
“Our new approach will therefore deploy technologies that are proven and cost effective and encounter the current threat and do so sooner than the previous programme,” he said from a university campus in Maryland. The plan had been to put a radar base in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter long-range nuclear missiles launched by “rogue” states, in particular Iran. That angered Russia but pleased Polish and Czech defence ministries and US defence contractors. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer insisted that the U-turn would not mean losing US money and military support, saying he expected co-operation and financing in science and military technology to continue. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said Iran’s long-range threat is less developed than previously thought. Iran’s response has been to suggest that either the US no longer sees it as a menace or has pandered to the Russians.