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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Romania to Host U.S. Missiles

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's top defense body approved a plan by Washington on Thursday to deploy interceptor missiles there as part of a missile shield to protect Europe, President Traian Basescu said.

The announcement came unexpectedly and Basescu gave few details on the project. But it appeared to be part of the revamped approach taken by U.S. President Barack Obama since he scrapped his predecessor's plan for a radar site and interceptor rockets in the Czech Republic and Poland.

The missile shield has angered Russia, which sees it as a threat to its own nuclear arsenal and has bristled at what it says is Washington's meddling in its sphere of influence.

A Kremlin spokesman declined to comment and said the Foreign Ministry would issue a statement Friday.

Basescu said the Supreme Defense Council — Romania's top military and security authority — had approved a U.S. proposal to include Romania in a system against "potential attacks with ballistic missiles or medium-range rockets."

The U.S. offer was brought to Bucharest by Ellen Taucher, undersecretary of state for arms control, who leads a team of U.S. experts in Romania, Basescu said.

"Terrestrial interceptors will be located inside the national territory," he said.

He said the U.S. facilities were expected to become operational in 2015 but the plan's specifics, now under discussion with U.S. partners, would need parliamentary approval in order to come into force.

In past years, the parliament has solidly backed participation in U.S.- and NATO-led military ventures, including Romanian troop deployments to hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama's decision to scrap the Bush plan disappointed both Prague and Warsaw.

"The U.S. has determined that Romania is well-suited for the location of this system to provide protection for European NATO Allies," the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said the plan was first presented to Basescu during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Bucharest in October but was not made public.

"This became official today," Baconschi said.