Romania agrees to host US missile interceptors
Romania's decision to host US missile interceptors is not widely seen as a threat to Russian defense capabilities, unlike the scrapped plan for a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
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The move is unlikely to invoke the same level of ire from Russia as former President Bush’s plan to place a larger defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Mr. Obama shelved in September.
Reuters reports that Romanian President Traian Basescu said the Supreme Defense Council on Thursday approved the US offer, brought to Romania by Ellen Tauscher, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. The plan will put at least two short-to-medium-range missile interceptors in Romania that will be operational by 2015.
The facilities in Romania will be part of Obama’s plan to develop a land- and sea-based missile shield in Europe focused on protecting against threats from Iranian medium-range missiles. In September he scrapped a Bush administration plan to develop an expensive and untested missile shield in Europe with components in Poland and the Czech Republic. That plan had raised tensions with Russia, which considered US missile facilities near its border a threat, and the decision to shelve it was welcomed in Europe, as The Christian Science Monitor reported.
Romanian newspapers Nine O’Clock and Financiarul both reported positive reaction among Romanian politicians to the decision, with the senate speaker calling it “one of the most important matters of national security Romania has ever faced.” A supporter of US military efforts, the European Union and NATO member has previously sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Romanian president made clear that the decision to host the US system should not be seen as a statement against Russia. "The new system is not against Russia. I want to categorically stress this, Romania (will) not host a system against Russia, but against other threats," he said, according to Reuters.