A U.S. Senate panel on Thursday approved the budget proposal by President George W. Bush for the U.S. missile defense system in Europe.
The approval by the Senate Armed Service Committee would increase the budget for the European system to 712 million U.S. dollars, including funds for construction of the two sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.
"It just goes to show that there is certainly a bipartisan consensus in the Senate that there is a threat to Europe and the U.S. from Iran," said Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency.
The Pentagon plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic and install 10 interceptors in Poland as part of the missile defense system, which the U.S. claims is intended to protect itself and parts of Europe from potential attacks from the Middle East and Asia.
However, the program was met with major public protests in the two European countries and has been strongly opposed by Russia, who says the sites are too close to its borders.
In a bid to address these concerns, the panel approved the budget with preconditions that the United States has to acquire the consent from the Polish and Czech parliaments.
The budget was part of a bigger defense policy bill that is to be voted by the entire Senate before going to the president for signing.