Spain will host US ships for missile defense plan

By LOLITA C. BALDOR and SLOBODAN LEKIC | October 5, 2011 | 10:00 AM EDT

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. officials say the Obama administration has agreed to base Aegis Cruisers on Spain's coast, as part of the anti-ballistic missile defense system to protect Europe against a potential Iranian nuclear threat.

They say the plan would make it easier to maintain a continuous naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea. It comes just seven months after the Pentagon sent the USS Monterey, a special radar-equipped warship, to the Mediterranean, marking the first of the administration's four-phase plan to put land- and sea-based radars and interceptors in several European locations over the next decade.

The plan was developed to protect Europe from a potential Iranian nuclear threat in 2009. It was approved by NATO last November.

U.S. defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public.