US axes European missile defence system

The White House will axe plans to deploy a theatre missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic concluding that the limited technical capabilities of the Iranian missile programme to date do not justify the costs in terms of both strained budgets and strained relations with Russia.

The White House will axe plans to deploy a theatre missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The deployment in that region was viewed with great hostility by Moscow and marked skepticism on grounds of efficacy by defence analysts.

The Bush Administration viewed the missile shield as a strategic response to possible nuclear threats from Iran or other potential adversaries in the Middle East. The Obama Administration has however concluded that the limited technical capabilities of the Iranian missile programme to date do not justify the costs in terms of both strained budgets and strained relations with Russia.

The Administration is now likely to look favorably on cheaper, less ambitious defence requests by the Polish government, such as its desire for the deployment of the Patriot missile battery system. The move follows previous Obama Administration defence cuts in high cost, high technology areas such as the F-22 programme. In the context of budget stresses and changed threats, the move is sure to re-open the debate on Britian’s own nuclear weapon needs and defence budget priorities.

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