Brussels (dpa) - NATO's missile defense shield in Europe will be
effective despite a US decision to drop the last phase of the
project, the chief of the military alliance said Monday.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had announced on Friday that his country would abandon the fourth phase, to help finance the deployment of new missiles in Alaska to guard against a growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
The added missiles in Europe had been intended to protect the US from an attack out of Iran, but would no longer be necessary given the expanded system on US soil, Hagel said.
The European missile shield is already partly operational.
With sites in Poland and Romania, it will "provide coverage of all European NATO populations and territory as planned by 2018," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
"The Europeans will see no difference in their missile defence and there will be exactly the same coverage of NATO Europe as in the original plan," he said in Brussels.
He also described the US commitment to the missile defence shield as "iron-clad" and said the decision had "nothing to do" with Russia, which has steadfastly opposed NATO's plans.
Moscow continues to reject the missile defence project, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Kommersant newspaper, saying there was "no cause for euphoria" over Hagel's announcement since problems persisted.
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