<!-- IMAGE -->
Citing the threat posed by Iran's missile program, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. will restructure its plans for missile defense in Europe.
Instead of the deployment of 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and a large, fixed-site radar located in the Czech Republic designed to counter long-range ballistic missiles launched from Iran, the new phased, adaptive ballistic missile defense system will counter the existing threat from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
It also provides the option of implementing later phases to counter longer-range missiles as they are tested and deployed.
The U.S. believes the plan will reinforce and strengthen ongoing NATO efforts on missile defense, most recently approved by Heads of State and Government at their April 2009 summit, and is fully supportive of previous summit decisions to pursue a NATO-wide multi-layered ballistic missile defense architecture.
The decision to change course was guided by 2 principle factors, said President Obama:
"First we have updated our intelligence assessment of Iran's missile programs, which emphasizes the threat posed by Iran's short-and medium-range missiles, which are capable of reaching Europe. ... Second, we have made specific and proven advances in our missile defense technology. ... Our new approach will, therefore, deploy technologies that are proven and cost effective and that counter the current threat, and do so sooner than the previous program."
President Obama stressed that the U.S. will continue to work cooperatively with our close friends and allies, including the Czech Republic and Poland who had agreed to host elements of the previous missile defense plan:
"Together we are committed to a broad range of cooperative efforts to strengthen our collective defense, and we are bound by the solemn commitment of NATO'S Article 5 that an attack on one is an attack on all."
In his announcement, the President said Russia's objections to the previous plan, with components in Poland and the Czech Republic, "were entirely unfounded":
"Our clear and consistent focus has been the threat posed by Iran's ballistic missile program, and that continues to be our focus and the basis of the program that we are announcing today."
The U.S., said President Obama, welcomes Russia's cooperation in bringing its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests, as the U.S. and Russia "continue [their] shared efforts to end Iran's illicit nuclear program."