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World News

FACTBOX: A few details of planned U.S. missile shield

(Reuters) - NATO proposed a new era of cooperation with Russia on Friday, calling for joint work with Moscow and Washington on missile defense after the United States scrapped a planned anti-missile system.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described as “correct and brave” President Barack Obama’s decision to drop the missile shield intended for Europe by predecessor George W. Bush. Russia’s NATO envoy welcomed the NATO cooperation proposals.

Following are some details about the missile shield and the international politics surrounding it.

LESS SUPPORTIVE THAN BUSH

* The Obama administration had been cooler on the shield, which includes building a radar base in the Czech Republic and placing interceptor rockets in neighboring Poland, than the previous leadership of George W. Bush.

* The intention to construct sites in central Europe had angered Moscow, which called it a threat to its security and threatened to take retaliatory measures.

* Both Poland and the Czech Republic were part of the Soviet bloc and have joined the European Union and NATO since the fall of their communist governments in 1989.

THE TECHNOLOGY:

* The system would use “hit-to-kill” technology in which an array of sensors and radar would detect an enemy missile in flight and guide a ground-based interceptor to destroy it.

* Without using explosives, the interceptor would ram an incoming warhead at a closing speed of 15,000 miles per hour in a process likened to hitting a bullet with another bullet in space.

* The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) says tests show the technology is sound. But critics say that many tests were made in controlled circumstances not resembling real attacks, and that more results are needed to prove the system.

THE PLAN:

* The radar installation planned for the Czech Republic would aim its coverage toward the Middle East to detect a missile in flight and guide interceptor missiles into the trajectory of the approaching warhead.

* Washington planned to place 10 interceptor missiles with a range of up to 1,800 miles in Poland. The missiles would be housed in underground silos in an area about the size of a football field.

* Construction on both sites was earlier expected to begin in 2009, but there has been no progress so far.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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