Romanian president said his country has agreed to host missile interceptors as part of a new US defence shield. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
The plan was approved by the defence council and still needs parliamentary approval, said president Traian Basescu.
A previous missile shield has been scrapped by the US. It was based in Poland and the Czech Republic and had infuriated Russia, which threatened to respond by training nuclear warheads on Poland the Czech Republic.
According to a US official, the new system would provide better defence from “the emerging threat” of Iranian short-and medium-range missiles.
The system will “protect the whole of Romania’s territory”, said Mr Basescu, adding that it “is not directed against Russia”.
He said Romania will host “ground capabilities to intercept missiles” that would be operational by 2015 if approved by parliament.
Smaller system for shorter-range missiles
US State department spokesman PJ Crowley also stressed that the new system was “not a capability that is directed at Russia”.
Romanian president said his country has agreed to host anti-ballistic missile interceptors as part of the administration’s “new missile defence plan… to protect US forward-deployed troops and our NATO allies against current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran.”
US president decided the abandon the original plan in September, amid attempts to “reset” the relationship between his country and Russia. Barack Obama’s decision was greeted with enthusiasm in Moscow.
Obama announced that a reconfigured system designed to shoot down short- and medium- range missiles would replace the anti-ballistic missile shield favoured by former President George W Bush.
US president also said intelligence suggested Iran was concentrating on shorter-range, not intercontinental, missiles.
US Vice-president Joseph Biden visited Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic in October, seeking support for the new system.
Poland has already signed up.