Reports: U.S. scraps missile defense shield plans

The U.S. has been testing the ability of ground-based interceptor missiles to hit long-range ballistic missiles.
The United States has suspended Bush-administration plans for a missile defense shield in Poland, a spokeswoman for the Polish Ministry of Defense said Thursday.

“This is catastrophic for Poland,” said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with ministry policy. A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, however, said the decision had not been finalized. “At this point, the review (of the decision) is still ongoing,” said Jeanne Brigante, the embassy’s press attache. “We don’t have an announcement of a decision yet.” The Wall Street Journal reported overnight that the White House will shelve plans to build the system in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to people familiar with the matter. The paper said the United States will base its decision on a determination that Iran’s long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental United States and major European capitals, according to current and former U.S. officials. Is the U.S. right to scrap plans for a missile defense shield in Europe Sound Off below U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. James E. Cartwright, who is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday morning. The Defense Department has not announced what will be discussed, but Cartwright is the point man for the missile defense shield program. See how the system would work

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In the Czech Republic, a meeting was planned for Thursday among the Czech Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Defense and a U.S. delegation, at which an analysis of the defense shield would be presented, a spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Defense and U.S. Embassy spokesman John Vance told CNN. The defense ministry spokesman did not say the program had been scrapped.

There was no comment Thursday morning from officials in Russia, which has opposed the U.S. plans to build the missile shield so close to its western border. The United States proposed the plan under then-President W. George Bush; the Obama administration has since been reviewing the plan. The missile shield issue came up in July during a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow. Obama maintained that Russia had nothing to fear from such a system, which would be designed to intercept a solitary missile from Iran or North Korea, as opposed to “a mighty Russian arsenal.”