Czech Republic: Obama Shelving Plans to Build European Missile Defense System

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer says U.S. President Barack Obama has informed him Washington will not build a proposed missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Fischer says Mr. Obama revealed his decision during a phone call late Wednesday night.

The Wall Street Journal Thursday said Mr. Obama is planning to cancel the radar system in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland.

Reuters news agency quotes senior Polish officials as saying they have received similar news from the U.S.

The missile defense system was first proposed by former U.S. President George W. Bush, who said it would protect the region against a possible missile attack from Iran.

But Marine General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said the U.S. overestimated how close Iran was to fully developing a long-range ballistic missile system.

The plan also angered Russia.

Moscow felt it posed a threat to its own long-range ballistic missile program. It was also upset over building the system in two former Soviet bloc states.

The news comes days before President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and a meeting of 20 of the world’s most industrialized nations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Obama administration is said to be considering a handful of alternatives to a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, including deploying shorter-range missile interceptors.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.