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Obama: Missile defence decision not about Russia

world Updated: Sep 20, 2009 21:05 IST
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President Barack Obama sharply dismisses criticism that Russian opposition influenced his decision to scrap a European missile defence system, calling it merely a bonus if the leaders of Russia end up "a little less paranoid" about the US.

"My task here was not to negotiate with the Russians," Obama told CBS' "Face the Nation" in an interview for broadcast today.

"The Russians don't make determinations about what our defence posture is."

The president's comments were his first on the matter since he abruptly announced on Thursday that he was scuttling plans to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a related radar in the Czech Republic. That shield had been proposed under President George W Bush.

In an interview with CBS News that was taped Friday, Obama was pressed on why he did not seek anything in exchange from Russia.

"Russia had always been paranoid about this, but George Bush was right. This wasn't a threat to them," Obama said. "And this program will not be a threat to them."

He added: "If the byproduct of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iran, you know, then that's a bonus.