Obama denies Russia missile role

US president says Moscow did not influence decision to scrap defence shield in Europe.

    The Bush administration had pushed for the plan as safeguard against any Iranian missile attack [AFP]

    "If the by-product of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iran, you know, then that's a bonus."

    Obama on Thursday announced that the US was scrapping plans to place the missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Alternative plan

    The Bush administration had pushed hard for the shield, arguing that Iran was developing long-range missiles alongside its controversial nuclear programme.

    Obama said that instead of a shield, there will be a different missile-defence plan relying on a network of sensors and interceptor missiles based at sea, on land and in the air.

    His announcement raised questions of whether the decision was done in part to appease Russia and win its help in other areas, mainly in confronting the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, on Friday praised Obama's decision as "brave."

    "Russia had always been paranoid about this, but [former president] George Bush was right, this wasn't a threat to them," Obama said. 


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.