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Obama unveils new missile shield plan

world Updated: Sep 18, 2009 19:36 IST
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US President Barack Obama on Friday scrapped a controversial Bush regime missile defence plan for Eastern Europe -- a key irritant in US-Russian ties -- and unveiled a new system which will offer "greater defences" against the threat of possible missile attacks from Iran.

The White House said the new missile defence system for Eastern Europe, which is based on fresh threat and intelligence assessment, would start deployment around 2011 and will be ending in 2020 in four phases.

The "phased, adaptive approach" will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems and will be more effective than the 2007 defence programme, offering "greater defences", Obama said at a hurriedly-convened White House press meet.

Obama said his decision is guided by updated intelligence assessment of Iran's missile programmes, which emphasises the threat posed by its short-and-medium-range missiles, capable of reaching Europe. After a review, the US has concluded that Iran is less focused on developing the kind of long-range missiles for which the system was originally developed, making the building of an expensive new shield unnecessary.

The US President also said there is no substitute for Iran complying with its international obligations regarding its nuclear programme.

The missile defence system was to be built in the Czech Republic and Poland.