During his visit to Moscow today, President Barack Obama made it clear that he was willing to abandon the controversial missile defense plan in Eastern Europe in return for Russian help in eliminating “the threat” posed by Iran.
“I want us to work together on a missile defence architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes is eliminated, the driving force for missile defence in Europe will be eliminated. That is in our mutual interest,” Obama insisted.
Reports to this effect have endured for months, but this is the first time President Obama has so directly offered to trade the shield, which is well outside of the range of any Iranian missiles but quite close to Russian territory, for anti-Iran moves.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski had previously expressed anger at the rumor. The deployment of US missiles on Polish territory to combat the largely illusory Iranian “threat” means very little, and Kaczynski was quite willing to concede this, but he insisted the move would be an “unfriendly gesture” toward Poland. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then pledged that the US commitment to Poland would continue.
The Iranian government has an active civilian nuclear program, and Russia is constructing a nuclear power plant in Bushehr. Despite repeated US accusations, however, the IAEA has repeatedly confirmed that there is no evidence Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.