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U.S.: Iran, Not Russia, Drives Revamped Missile Plan

Romanian President Traian Basescu (right) says the topic came up during an October visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
The United States is offering assurances that a new missile-defense plan that would involve the deployment of interceptor missiles in Romania is not aimed against Russia but against a potential threat from Iran.

Russia has not yet made any official comment on the plan, announced on February 4.

Russia previously opposed a U.S. plan, which has since been abandoned by Washington, to place missile-defense facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stressed that the revised U.S. missile-shield plan involving the deployment of medium-range ballistic missile interceptors in Romania is not directed at Russia but against what he described as an "emerging" missile threat from Iran.

"It is precisely what we have always said, which is we are going to protect our interests and those of our allies," Crowley said. "We see this emerging threat coming, as we've said."

Crowley added that Washington's "revised approach is in fact tailored to address the emerging threat coming to the region from Iran."

He added: "Regarding Russia, as we have made clear over and over again, this is not a capability that's directed at Russia."

Earlier, Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that Romania's top defense body had approved a proposal to participate in the system, which is expected to be operational by 2015.

He added that the participation of Romania, a NATO and European Union member on the Black Sea, was not meant to threaten Russia.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Romania in October to present to leaders the revamped U.S. missile-shield plan.

compiled from agency reports

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