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NATO Chief Warns US Missile Defense Plan Could Divide Alliance

NATO's secretary general says a proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe risks splitting the alliance between those countries it would fully protect and those left vulnerable to threats.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's warning appeared Monday in an interview with the British newspaper, The Financial Times.

Experts say the proposed missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic would shield most of Europe from any attacks from what Washington calls rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.

But NATO officials told the newspaper that countries in southeastern Europe such as Turkey, Greece and Italy would need extra short-range missile protection because of their proximity to Iran.

De Hoop Scheffer suggests that the proposed U.S. system could be complemented by NATO plans for a smaller, mobile system scheduled to become operational in 2010.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.