U.S. President Barack Obama has unveiled a new approach for a missile defense system in Europe, while ending previous plans for deploying a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In his announcement at the White House Thursday, Mr. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the defense of the United States and its allies against a missile threat from Iran. He said the change follows a new assessment of Iran's missile program.
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the system will involve sensors and interceptors in northern and southern Europe as well as missiles on ships. He said the United States is in talks with Poland and the Czech Republic on hosting the interceptors. Gates said Iranian long-range missile technology is not as immediate a threat as U.S. officials previously thought. But he said the system will allow expanded capability if needed.
In his comments at the White House, Mr. Obama again stressed that Russian concerns about the U.S. missile defense plans are unfounded. Russia strongly objected to the deployment of the missile shield in eastern Europe, calling it a threat to its security.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later told reporters the changes in the U.S. missile defense program did not involve any concessions to Russia.