NATO leaders have declared that the Alliance now has an interim ballistic missile defense capability.
The declaration, marking the first step in the development of a NATO missile-defense system in Europe, was made at the end of the first day's deliberations at the summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Chicago on Sunday.
At the last NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010, Alliance leaders had agreed that NATO would develop a missile defense capability to pursue its core task of collective defense.
"Today, in Chicago, we have declared that a reality," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Following the Lisbon decision, the Alliance began developing a command and control system which will be able to connect missile-defense assets provided by individual Allies into a coherent defense.
"Our system will link together missile defense assets from different Allies - satellites, ships, radars and interceptors -under NATO command and control. It will allow us to defend against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area," the Secretary-General said.
The Interim Capability features a basic command and control capability which has been tested and installed at Headquarters Alliance Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. Allies will provide sensors and interceptors to connect to the system.
NATO's long-term goal is to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
This goal will be achieved with the Full Operational Capability, which is expected around the end of the current decade or early next decade.
Washington has been floating several proposals aimed at easing Russian concerns about the deployment of the missiles along its borders. But Moscow has shown no public signs of softening its opposition to the missile system, insisting that it will destabilize eastern Europe and trigger a new arms race.
The Chicago summit made it clear that NATO missile defense is not oriented against Russia nor does it have the capability to undermine Russia's strategic deterrent. "The Alliance, in a spirit of reciprocity, maximum transparency and mutual confidence, will actively seek cooperation on missile defense with Russia and, in accordance with NATO's policy of engagement with third states on ballistic missile defense, engage with other relevant states, to be decided on a case-by-case basis," the statement added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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