US President Barack Obama has said he would move forward with a planned missile defence shield in central Europe despite Russian objections, saying Iran remained a real threat.
Obama said the project to install a radar system and 10 interceptor missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland could still be scrapped, but only if Iran was deemed no longer a danger.
"Let me be clear: Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbours and our allies," Obama said in a keynote speech on nuclear proliferation in Prague yesterday.
"The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defence against these missiles.
"As long as the threat from Iran persists, we intend to go forward with a missile defence system that is cost-effective and proven."
Iran insists its nuclear programme is only designed to meet energy needs.
The US shield plan, unveiled by Obama's predecessor George W Bush, has enraged Moscow, which at one stage threatened to respond by placing missiles in its exclave of Kaliningrad, bordering Poland and Lithuania.
Obama, who last month held out an olive branch to Iran's leaders urging them to join the international fold, stressed the plans would no longer be necessary if Tehran was no longer a threat.