NATO Backs Missile Shield Over Russian Protest

by Jason Ditz, December 03, 2008

NATO foreign ministers today praised America’s planned missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic as making a “substantial contribution” to protecting Europe from long-range ballistic missiles.

The United States insists that the shield is primarily directed at the threat of long-range Iranian missiles, though both the missile base and the radar station are well outside the range of Iran’s most advanced missile. Rather, Russia sees the bases and the 10 interceptor missiles to be placed there sometime in the next few years as an effort to slightly degrade their retaliatory capability.

President-elect Barack Obama has not yet committed to completing the base, saying he would do so only if the technology is proven workable. Russia has responded to the plan by threatening to place Iskander missiles and jamming equipment in the exclave of Kaliningrad to counter the shield. President Medvedev says his government is willing to reverse the decision to place the missiles in Kaliningrad if Obama cancels construction of the missile defense.

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