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Obama's deft move on anti-Iran defense missiles

He holds a bolder card just before talks with Tehran about its nuclear program around the corner.

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The Obama administration's new anti-Iran missile plan is not so much a "reversal" of the Bush plan, as a refinement of it.

And a well-timed one for the coming round of diplomacy with Iran.

On Oct. 1, the US will join China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany for talks with Iran, presumably on its nuclear weapons program. The world has been at a stalemate in forcing Iran to comply with international nuclear nonproliferation standards. Neither sanctions nor a new US openness to deal with Tehran has yet to yield results.

But today's announcement that the US will soon have a missile defense system ready to intercept possible Iranian short- and medium-range nuclear missiles should significantly add to the pressure on Iran. Perhaps, too, Russia may reverse itself and agree to tougher sanctions if Iran still doesn't comply.

Why would Russia do that? Because the new missile defense strategy scraps planned military installations in Poland and the Czech Republic that had needlessly infuriated Russia. Moscow imagined these installations to be a threat to its security and an unwelcome interference in its neighborhood. The administration is also open to Russia taking part in a missile shield.

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