US move on missile defence could revive talks with Russia
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is ready to abandon the final phase of its European missile defence system, in a move that could revive arms control talks with Russia.
As part of plans announced on Friday to deploy more anti-missile batteries in Alaska to thwart potential strikes from North Korea, the US intends to "restructure" its missile defence programme in Europe, an administration official said on Saturday.
President Barack Obama's plan for Europe had envisaged SM-3 interceptors on land and sea that would be upgraded and improved over four stages. The final phase of the missile-killing interceptor, known as SM-3 IIB, was due to be deployed within about 10 years in Poland and possibly Romania, with a more powerful booster rocket and other advanced hardware.
However, the final phase "is being restructured due to congressional funding cuts and changing technology", the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. "The goal is to research what alternative there could be to the original SM-3 IIB plan."