US scraps European missile defense shield

The Moscow Times:  Newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. would scrap part of its European missile defense shield, which has faced the biggest opposition from Russia.

The U.S. intends to cancel the fourth phase of the missile defense system, which can in theory shoot down some Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles. The first three phases, which target medium- and short-range missiles, will remain intact.

Hagel, who made his announcement at a Pentagon news conference Friday, said that instead of deploying SM-3 IIB land-based missiles in Poland, the U.S. will put 14 ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in Alaska by 2017.

The cost of the new deployment will amount to $1 billion, The Associated Press reported, citing U.S. Officials. U.S. authorities also said no interceptors would be deployed to Romania, another planned site.

Hagel said the decision was made due to military funding cuts and a potential threat from North Korea. The totalitarian country has announced recently that it had cancelled a peace treaty with South Korea, a U.S. ally.