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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Scraps Missile Deployment After Obama Cancels Missile Shield

By VOA News
19 September 2009

Russia says it has scrapped plans to deploy missiles in a region near Poland after U.S. President Barack Obama canceled plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe.

In a radio interview Saturday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said Mr. Obama's move has made the deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region unnecessary.

President Obama said Thursday he is replacing the planned missile defense system with what he called a new approach for defending the United States and its NATO allies from a missile threat from Iran.

Russia had fiercely opposed the earlier planned system as a threat to its security.

Some U.S. Republican leaders and East European politicians have criticized the change as misguided.

Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is not shelving missile defenses but implementing a more comprehensive defense system. She insisted the United States is not walking away from its allies.

Thursday, U.S. Republican Senator John McCain called the decision a step backwards at a time when Eastern European countries are increasingly wary of what he called "renewed Russian adventurism."

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have both praised Mr. Obama's decision.

Some Czech and Polish officials said the development will not endanger the security of their countries. But others, such as former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government negotiated the missile deployment accord, said the decision threatens Czech security.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorsky called the timing of the announcement clumsy, noting that it came on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of his country during World War Two.

In his announcement, Mr. Obama said the change follows a new assessment of Iran's missile program. The missile defense system planned for central Europe was supposed to counter an attack from Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush first proposed building a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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