She also said an interceptor site in Romania is scheduled to become operational in 2015. U.S. officials also have positioned a missile defense ship in the eastern Mediterranean, are in the process of deploying four missile defense-capable ships to Spain, and have positioned missile defense radar in Turkey.
The Czech radar system was dropped, Ms. Hayden said, because of Czech lawmakers’ delays in ratifying an agreement.
Missile defense analysts generally agree with the track pursued by the White House.
“The idea that we canceled the Bush administration’s plan in 2009 and left our allies in the lurch with nothing to replace it defies the fact that we’re moving forward with a missile defense plan,” said Kingston Reif, a senior analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.
“Going back to the Bush-era system now would be counterproductive,” said Mr. Reif, adding that Republican lawmakers have long known that the Czechs were never fully onboard with the plan.
Mr. Gates tried to hammer home that point during a June 2011 congressional hearing where he told lawmakers, “Let’s be blunt: The third site in Europe was not going to happen because the Czech government wouldn’t approve the radar.”
A spokesman for President Milos Zeman said this month that Mr. Zeman considered the Bush-era plan ineffective years go and hasn’t changed his mind.
Some analysts remain suspicious of the Obama administration’s handling of missile defense.
The Heritage Foundation issued a report last week arguing that the administration “unwisely canceled” the final phase of the plan last year that called for the deployment to Poland “of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors capable of shooting down medium-, intermediate-, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles.”
Her remarks were bolstered by a senior administration official, who told The Times on the condition of anonymity that while the SM-3 Block IIB program was designed to provide some protection to the U.S. homeland against potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles, it was “canceled last year due to funding and technology delays and because the potential threat to the United States was evolving — including the potential ICBM threat from North Korea.”
As a result, the administration is increasing the number of ground-based missile interceptors, from 30 to 44, that the Pentagon has positioned in Alaska and California.
The interceptors “have the advantage of being able to defend the United States from ICBMs from either Iran or North Korea,” the senior administration official said. “By comparison, an SM-3 IIB in Europe would not provide any protection against a potential North Korean threat.”
Still, Mrs. Ayotte was undeterred by the administration’s characterization of the situation. She said Washington should be working overtime “with our allies to increase the number of SM-3 missiles to be deployed in Poland and Romania and accelerate the deployment of the site in Poland.”