US budget woes could hit European missile defense

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A breakdown in high-stakes budget talks in Congress could threaten plans for a missile defense shield in Europe.

Negotiators have shown little sign they will be able to meet next week's deadline for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion. If they fail to agree, a new law mandates cuts throughout the federal government, including a big slice of the defense budget.

While it is not known what military spending would be cut, an expensive program aimed primarily at defending Europe is unlikely to be spared.

The U.S. sees the missile defense system, aimed at countering a threat from Iran, as part of its contribution to the NATO military alliance. With the United States complaining it makes a disproportionately large contribution to NATO, missile defense could be especially vulnerable to budget-cutters.