NATO to locate missile defence command in Germany

NATO will locate the command centre for its US-led missile defence system at the alliance base in Ramstein, near Frankfurt in Germany, a diplomat told AFP on 2 February.

"The command for the NATO missile shield will be based at the NATO base in Ramstein," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The centre will be operational following the Chicago NATO summit in May, the source added.

During a press conference at the end of January NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he hoped the Alliance will be able to declare an interim capability for its emerging missile defence architecture in Europe by the time of the Chicago summit. He acknowledged a lack of progress in talks with Russia on missile defence cooperation, and warned that without a deal, Russia will probably not attend the summit.

NATO already announced last year that Spain would host US ships with interceptor missiles while Turkey announced in mid-January that part of its contribution to the architecture, an early warning radar based about 400 miles southeast of Ankara in the town of Malatya, is now operational.

Land-based interceptors will be located in Romania by 2015 and in Poland by 2018, when the system is expected to be fully operational. The missile defence agreement between Romania and the United States entered into force in December. The arrangement includes the installation of ballistic missile defence interceptors at Deveselu Air Base by 2015 as part of the US/NATO “Phased Adaptive Approach” plan for missile defence in the region. US Senator Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois) told the National Journal that the Pentagon’s five-year budget request will likely contain an additional $200 million for missile defence in Poland.

The United States insists that the missile defence system aims to counter missile threats from Iran, but Russia has voiced concerns that it would target its own strategic deterrent. Moscow has hinted at military counter-measures, including deploying Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, in between NATO members Poland and Lithuania. 


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