President Barack Obama's Republican foes on Thursday denounced his move to cut back missile defense shield plans in Europe, charging he underestimated the threat of Iran and undercut US allies.
"The decision announced today by the Administration is dangerous and short-sighted," the number two Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl, said in a statement.
The shift leaves the United States "vulnerable to the growing Iranian long-range missile threat" but also sends a chilling message to former Soviet satellites who braved Moscow's anger to support the system, he charged.
"This will be a bitter disappointment, indeed, even a warning to the people of Eastern Europe," said Kyl, who underlined that missile defense hosts Poland and the Czech Republic had sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Today the Administration has turned its back on these allies," said Kyl.
Representative Buck McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, called Obama's decision a worrying sign that the White House "doesn't recognize the threat posed by the Iranian regime."
"I am concerned that the administration is heading down a path where it is willing to undercut our allies and cave to Russian demands on vital national security matters," he said in a statement.
Kyl and McKeon spoke out after officials said the United States will pull back from a plan to build a missile defense system in central Europe that had enraged Russia, after downgrading the threat of a missile attack from Iran.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said he was told in a late-night call from Obama that the shield would not go into place in the Czech Republic and that Poland had been given a similar message.
A radar base was to be built in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles placed in Poland under the plan which Russia had said was a direct threat to its security.
The United States had used the threat from "rogue" states such as Iran to justify the shield.
McKeon noted that Obama had pledged, during an April visit to Prague, to "go forward with European missile defenses as long as Iran continues to pose a threat."
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