Page last updated at 22:56 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

US hits target with missile test

US missile defence test 'a success'

The US has successfully tested its missile defence system designed to intercept long-range ballistic missile attacks, the Pentagon says.

A spokesman said it was a crucial step in plans for the missile shield the US wants to base in Europe.

The target missile was launched from the Alaskan island of Kodiak before being tracked and destroyed by an interceptor launched from California.

Russia sees US plans to base such a system in Europe as a direct threat.

The US wants to build a radar on Czech soil and put 10 interceptor rockets in Poland as a defence against what Washington describes as "rogue" states.

Map of Alaska and California missile bases

Russia has said it will deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region to "neutralise" the US shield.

But Moscow has expressed willingness to discuss the issue with the incoming administration of Barack Obama, who will replace George W Bush as US president in January.

Correspondents say the president-elect agrees with missile defence in principle, but it will face more scrutiny after he takes office.

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