Obama Scraps Bush Era Missile Defense Plan

September 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Obama is changing course on missile defense just as a secret report said Iran can build a nuclear warhead. President Obama is abandoning a Bush-era missile defense plan in Poland and the Czech Republic. The administration's policy comes as the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in a secret report that Iran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb.

In June 2009, Obama said, "Iran is developing nuclear capacity at a fairly rapid clip; they have been doing so for quite some time."

Instead of focusing on long-range missiles that could strike the U.S., the Obama administration is now focused on shorter range missiles that could strike U.S. allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The new policy marks a reversal of a Bush administration policy that irked Russia.

"In Russia it will be seen as a victory, it will be seen as a Russian victory in Poland," said Military expert Pavel Felgenhauer.

The administration said ship-based and more mobile land missiles would replace those intended for Eastern European. But Republicans calls it a cave-in to Russian pressure.

Rep. John Boehner (D) Ohio said, "This ill-advised decision does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our European allies."

Some worried that the threat of Iranian missiles striking the U.S. could still be very real.

"How many times have the quote intelligence estimates been wrong, dating back to and including the cold war? As many time as they've been right," said Sen. John McCain (R) Arizona.

The Obama administration said it's not abandoning missile defense, it's just updating it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said there's still time to defend against a long-range missile that could strike the U-S, if Iran develops one.

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