Romania Agrees To Host US Missile Interceptors

Romania has agreed to host missile interceptors as part of a revamped US plan to build a missile defense shield in three European countries.

US Vice-President Joseph Biden had visited Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic in October last seeking support for the new system that President Barack Obama said would concentrate on a smaller-scale version.

Poland had already signed a deal with U.S. to regulate the deployment of American troops and military equipment in the country.

In September, Obama shelved the previous administration's plans to place 10 long-range ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a fixed-site radar station in the Czech Republic.

Due to a reassessment of the threat from Iran, Washington announced a new scheme for a more flexible system, with a combination of land and sea-based interceptors based on the Standard Missile interceptor, SM-3.

Under the new plan, the U.S. would place ship-based SM-3s in the North and Mediterranean Seas in 2011, and mobile land-based SM-3s in Central Europe by 2015.

Although the new multi-directional radars and missiles would not be able to penetrate deep into Russia's territory, the deal would serve as the legal framework for a possible future missile defense site. Russian officials have voiced concerns over the new plans as well.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said the plan was approved Thursday by the Supreme Defense Council, the country's top defense authority, but it needs to be ratified by the parliament to come into force.

He said the system would increase Romania's security, but stressed that it "is not directed against Russia."

"Terrestrial interceptors will be located inside the national territory," he said, adding that the U.S. facilities were expected to become operational in 2015.

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