US defends plans for anti-missile shield in Europe

A US defense official insisted Thursday that its planned missile defense system, parts of which are to be located in Central Europe, was in response to a "real and growing threat" from Iran and North Korea. However Patricia Sanders, executive director of the US Missile Defense Agency, encountered guarded reaction from European and NATO officials, who called for a more precise assessment of the threat and more public discussions before the United States pushes ahead with the project. Washington is in formal talks with Poland on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in the country, and with the Czech Republic on a radar base that would also form part of the defense shield. The US administration says the two sites are needed to supplement existing bases in Alaska and California to create a network to defend Europe and North America from a potential attack.