Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dismay in Europe as Obama ditches missile defence

President Obama dismayed America's allies in Europe and angered his political opponents at home today when he formally ditched plans to set up a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The project had been close to the heart of Mr Obama's predecessor, President Bush, who had argued before leaving office in January that it was needed to defend against long-range ballistic missile attacks from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

But it had hobbled relations with Russia, which considered it both a security threat and an unnecessary political provocation in its own backyard.

At a White House appearance today, Mr Obama confirmed that the defence shield envisaged by the Bush Administration, involving a radar base in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets sited in Poland, was being abandoned.