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Obama Scraps Bush’s European Missile Defense Plan

Above: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (L) and Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James E. Cartwright (R) answer questions during a press briefing at the Pentagon about a change in strategy on missile defense planning that would scrap a plan proposed by former U.S. President George W. Bush and instead focus efforts on revising the system to counter possible threats posed by shorter range Iranian missiles.

The Czech prime minister says President Obama has told him that the U.S. is abandoning plans to put a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Czech Premier Jan Fischer told reporters in Prague on Thursday that Obama phoned him to say that Washington has decided to scrap the plan that had deeply angered Russia.

Fischer says Obama confirmed that Washington no longer intends to put 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

The Bush administration had said the missile shield was a strategic way to counter a threat from Iran or another rogue state in the Middle East. But Russia was deeply angered by the prospect of having U.S. interceptor rockets in countries so close to its territory.

Obama took office undecided about whether to continue to press for the European system and said he would study it. His administration never sounded enthusiastic about it, and European allies have been preparing for an announcement that the White House would not complete the shield as designed.

"It is most probable that the U.S. administration will unfortunately scrap the plan altogether," said Jaroslaw Gowin, a lawmaker with Poland's ruling Civic Platform party.

"This would confirm that Central Europe is not in the center of Obama administration's interest," he said, adding: "But maybe the U.S. will offer us an alternative."

The Czech government had stood behind the planned radar system despite fierce opposition from the public, which has staged numerous protests over the past few years.

Critics fear the Czech Republic would be targeted by terrorists if it agreed to host the radar system, which was planned for the Brdy military installation southwest of Prague, the capital.

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