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Obama committed to European missile defense

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration is committed to missile defense stations in Europe as a means of containing Iran, a government official said.

"We are first and foremost very grateful to the Czech Republic, to the government and the people, for working with us to try to deter the threat from Iran," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during her meeting Tuesday with the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Clinton said any delays in deploying the missile defense system "are largely technical matters."

The Bush administration had initiated the missile defense plan as a means of protecting NATO allies from the threat of Iranian nuclear attack. The theory was that robbed of such leverage, it would be easier to induce Iran to lower its threat profile against Israel and other Western allies in the Middle East.

Russia, however, strongly opposes the deployment of the anti-missile systems in the Czech Republic and Poland as impugning its own pre-eminence. Some congressional Democrats have argued that the missile defense system was not worth alienating Russia, a key figure in international efforts to isolate Iran.

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