A major Warsaw newspaper is reporting tonight that the Obama Administration has “all but abandoned” plans to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying that the administration is considering alternative sites which would be less overtly hostile to Russia.
The enormous program would have cost billions of dollars and put a handful of defensive missiles near the Russian frontier. The Bush Administration, which originally concocted the plan, insisted the deployment was aimed at Iran, though it was and remains well outside the range of the best Iranian missiles. The plan caused major tensions with Russia, which threatened to target the cities where the shield is located with nuclear weapons in the event of a war, and threatened to deploy extra missiles to the exclave of Kaliningrad to counter the shield.
Since taking office the Obama Administration has wavered on the shield, citing its considerable cost and dubious effectiveness. The Polish government expressed outrage at the notion the project might be abandoned, which prompted the administration to promise a “commitment.” More recently the president has sought to trade the shield to the Russian government in return for Russian support for harsh measures against Iran.
The new sites being considered are reportedly in the Balkans, as well as Israel and Turkey. The Pentagon emphasized after the release of the rumors that no final decision had been made yet to scrap the current program or to relocate it anyplace specifically.