WASHINGTON: The United States is close to activating a missile shield over southern Europe as part of its effort to shore up regional defenses in the face of a missile threat from Iran, The Washington Post reported late Saturday.
Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the US Defense Department is nearing a deal to establish a key radar ground station probably in Turkey or Bulgaria. Installation of the high-powered X-band radar would enable the first phase of the shield to become operational next year, the report said.
In September 2009, US President Barack Obama scrapped a missile shield project, which had been pushed by his predecessor George W. Bush and would have seen a powerful radar installed in the Czech Republic and 10 long-range ballistic interceptor missiles in Poland by 2013.
The shield plan had enraged Russia, which called it a security menace on its doorstep, although Washington insisted the aim was to ward off a potential long-range missile threat from Iran. But according to The Post, a plan to protect southern Europe from missiles is still being implemented.