WASHINGTON - A US congressional panel demanded on Thursday that European allies foot more of the bill for a multibillion-dollar shield being built to guard NATO members from missiles that might some day be able to carry nuclear warheads, notably from Iran.
The House of Representatives' Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee voted to hold back 25 percent of funds authorized for certain shield expenses until the NATO allies spell out their contributions.
The allies at a 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon welcomed the US-built bulwark, dubbed by the White House the European Phased Adaptive Approach, as Washington's contribution to the alliance's missile defense.
The shield is a four-phase program designed chiefly to counter the perceived threat from Iran, which the West is pressing, through sanctions and other measures, to curb its nuclear program.
The measure is part of the Republican-led House's version of the 2013 defense authorization bill, which guides military policy and spending for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. It was adopted by a unanimous vote during a 3-1/2 minute subcommittee session.
The bill must be meshed with the Democratic-led Senate's version before it can be sent to the president for signing into law. The Senate is expected to start crafting its bill next month. The administration's stance on the push for more European funding was not immediately clear.