US to Shelve European Missile Shield

Kremlin delighted as Obama administration ends Bush program
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2009 6:00 AM CDT
An assistant shows the mock 'reset' button that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed over to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Geneva earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini, Pool)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The Obama administration will scrap Bush-era plans to build a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, sources tell the Wall Street Journal—a move expected to delight Russia, which has strongly opposed the program. Washington is basing its decision on a new, more modest assessment of Iran's long-range missile capabilities. Instead of focusing on long-range attacks, the White House will encourage NATO allies to develop regional defenses for short- and medium-range missiles.

With Iran refusing to budge in nuclear negotiations, the US needs Russia to support further economic sanctions when Security Council members meet next month. But the decision to shelve the program will anger Poland, the Czech Republic, and other eastern European nations who have viewed the Washington's "reset" of US-Russia relations warily. A Polish official said he wouldn't "speculate" on the fallout from the program's termination but added: "We expect the US will abide by its commitments."