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NATO Agrees on a Missile Defense Shield

NATO Agrees on a Missile Defense Shield

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington - President Obama says that NATO alliance leaders, for the first time, agreed to develop a missile defense capability that will cover all NATO European territory and populations, as well as the United States.

"This important step forward builds on the new Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense that I announced for the United States last year," Obama said during a press conference November 19 at the NATO Summit in Lisbon.

Obama said that missile defense was part of the agenda at the NATO-Russia Council meeting, recognizing that the alliance and Russia share many of the same threats. Russia was asked to participate in the international missile defense system, which has been under discussion for more than a year.

"We are actively pursuing cooperation with Russia on missile defense, including through the resumption of theatre missile defense exercises," the Lisbon Summit Declaration said.

"Our dialogue and cooperation with Russia also help us to resolve differences by building trust, mutual confidence, transparency, predictability and mutual understanding," the declaration added.

The expanded defensive missile shield system is projected to cost about 200 million euros ($273 million) over 10 years, according to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The European system would be linked to the existing U.S. anti-missile system.

"It offers a role for all of our allies. It responds to the threats of our times," Obama told reporters. "It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles."

In agreeing to the missile defense system, NATO leaders did not name any specific country that might pose a threat to Europe or the United States. In the past the United States has referred to potential rogue nations.

The NATO leaders said in the summit declaration that they have decided that the alliance will develop a missile defense capability to support collective defense. Its aim 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.

Obama approved recommendations from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in September 2009 for a phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe. This approach is a commitment to deploy technology starting around 2011 and builds on the U.S. anti-missile system.

This missile defense architecture will feature deployments of increasingly capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors, primarily upgraded versions of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), and a range of sensors in Europe to defend against the growing ballistic missile threats, according to the White House.

This phased approach develops the capability to augment current protection of the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats, and to offer more effective defenses against more near-term ballistic missile threats.

ENDS

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