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U.S. launches long-awaited European missile defense shield

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 Cinnamon    28,895

The U.S. is launching a new ground-based missile defense system in Romania Thursday amid increased tensions with Russia.

The system, to be operated by NATO, is getting up and running nearly a decade after the U.S. first announced plans to do so, only to encounter pushback from Russia. The U.S. has long insisted that the shield is directed against rogue states like Iran and not intended to target Moscow's missiles, but Russian officials have slammed the move as an "attempt to destroy the strategic balance" in Europe.

President Barack Obama scrapped the George W. Bush administration's planned bilateral deployment of a different system to Poland and the Czech Republic and has instead pursued a NATO-centric approach using alternate technology.

The system is to be turned over to NATO command and will be housed at a U.S. naval support facility in Deveselu, Romania, the site of a Romanian military base. Construction will begin on an additional anti-missile platform in Poland on Friday.

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System being unveiled Thursday capable of firing SM-3 defensive missiles that can "defeat incoming short and medium range enemy missiles," according to Lt. Shawn Eklund, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy.

Eklund told CNN that the facility will be manned by approximately 130 U.S. sailors. The inaugural ceremony for the new system will be attended by top U.S. and NATO military officials.

The Romania installation is the first land-based defensive missile launcher in Europe and will join other elements of the NATO defensive shield, including a command-and-control center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, a radar installation in Turkey and four ships capable of identifying enemy missiles and firing their own SM-3s based in Rota, Spain.

The U.S. and NATO have continually stressed that the system is intended to defend Europe from Iran and its expanding arsenal. Tehran has continued to test-fire ballistic missiles following the internationally negotiated deal to limit its nuclear program.

But Russia has dismissed the justification.



Much more at link!  Well, this has been a problem for a long time and it's coming to fruit now. Terrible for Russia/U.S. relations. 

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