WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Obama administration will scrap the controversial missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Thursday.
The comment followed similar statements from officials in Poland and the Czech Republic — where key elements of the system were to be located — but was the first confirmation from an American official.
Vice President Joe Biden earlier refused to confirm to CNN that the George W. Bush-era plan was being shelved. But he did explain the logic of doing so, saying Iran — a key concern for the United States — was not a threat.
“I think we are fully capable and secure dealing with any present or future potential Iranian threat,” he told CNN’s Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, where he is on a brief trip.
“The whole purpose of this exercise we are undertaking is to diminish the prospect of the Iranians destabilizing that region in the world. I am less concerned — much less concerned — about the Iranian potential. They have no potential at this moment, they have no capacity to launch a missile at the United States of America,” he said.
Biden said he is “deeply” involved in the review of the missile defense program.
The Bush administration had cited the perceived nuclear threat from Iran as one of the key reasons it wanted to install the missile shield in eastern Europe. The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans.