Obama Offers Russians Deal on Missile Shield

Prez offers to nix Europe defense base in exchange for help disarming Iran
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2009 1:39 AM CST
Soviet-made jet fighters stand in front of a shuttered Polish Air Force base, the proposed site of a new missile defense base, in Redzikowo, northern Poland.    (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, File)
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(Newser) – President Obama has offered to cancel a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Russia will help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, administration officials tell the New York Times. The agreement, outlined in a secret letter delivered to Moscow last month, would remove a major source of Russian-American friction. Russian leaders have signaled they are prepared to consider the proposal.

The offer, part of the new administration's effort to "press the reset button" on relations with Russia, is aimed at giving the nation an incentive to join a united front against Iran, according to officials. The deal does not offer Russians the opportunity to say, "We’ll try and therefore you have to suspend" the missile plan, said a senior administration source. "It says the threat has to go away."