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BARACK Obama has shown bold global leadership by withdrawing George W Bush's provocative defence shield.

Bush wanted to reignite the Cold War by stationing US missiles on the doorstep of nervous, nationalist Russia.

Obama has sent out clear messages. He is unclenching his fist and inviting Iran to pull back from the ayatollahs' quest for a Jihadi nuclear weapon.

To Russian strongman Vladimir Putin he's saying: "I hear you." Russia should respond to this unilateral disarmament and make it clear that its neighbours can play a full part in Europe.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has consistently argued for a new relationship with Russia.

The problem is that some Europeans are turning their back on Europe just at a time when Barack Obama is thinking constructively.


What was the plan?

The US wanted to build a giant radar in the Czech Republic to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles being fired towards Europe. They also hoped to have 10 "interceptor missiles" in Poland to shoot them down.

What will happen now?

Obama will still build a missile defence system but it will be based mainly in America or on ships to counter short-range attacks.

Why was it controversial?

Russia said it risked undermining their defences and promised "retaliation". They said they would build more missiles and base them on the Polish border. This risked a a return to Cold War tensions.

What does the U-turn mean for nuclear disarmament?

The US and Russia had agreed to reduce deployed warheads to a maximum of 2,200 by 2012. President Obama meets President Medvedev next week and there is now room for more cuts.

But is Europe more at risk from rogue states?

The Iranians claim to have missiles with a range of 1,200 miles that could hit south eastern Europe. They could develop longer range missiles which could be fitted with nuclear warheads.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Sep 18, 2009
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