BRUSSELS, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — The issue of security guarantees to Russia in the conditions of the deployment of the antiballistic missile (ABM) defence system in Europe will be discussed at a two-day meeting of the NATO defence ministers that is opening here on Wednesday.
“I want to strongly warn my colleagues - partners in NATO, that they are the initiators of the missile defence system deployment in Europe. And we need strong guarantees that the European missile defence machine that is being created will not be directed against the allies or partners,” Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said on the eve of the meeting.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said for his part that the ministers would discuss the building of the missile defence system in Europe. “Step by step NATO’s territorial missile defence is becoming a reality. I expect that in Chicago (where a NATO summit is planned for May 20-21, 2012) we will declare an interim operational capability,” - he said.
Among other items on the meeting agenda are the role of the NATO contingent in Kosovo, further action of the alliance and its partners in Afghanistan and making the decision to end the operation in Libya.
According to Rasmussen, “We will discuss the Libya operation, but I don’t expect any decision on the termination of the operation. We are... I would say, we are pretty close to the end of this operation, but, as you know, we have decided to extend the operation by up to 90 days.”
“However, we will review the operation on a regular basis so we stand ready to terminate it as soon as the situation allows. On the one hand we have declared that we are ready to continue our operation as long as it takes to make sure that we fully implement the United Nations mandate to protect the civilian population against any attack, and there are still attacks, against the civilian population. This is the reason why we continue our operation,” he noted.
“But on the other hand, we will not continue for one single day more than necessary. So we stand ready to terminate the operation as soon as the situation allows, but I wouldn't expect that decision to be taken during the Defence Ministers’ meeting. We will make that decision based on a comprehensive military assessment and in close coordination with the United Nations and the new authorities in Libya,” stressed the NATO Secretary General.
According to NATO’s release, in early 2010, NATO acquired the first phase of an initial capability to protect Alliance forces against missile threats. At the November 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, NATO’s leaders decided to develop a missile defence capability to pursue its core task of collective defence. To this end they decided that the scope of the current Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme’s command, control and communication capabilities will be expanded beyond the capability to protect forces to also include NATO European populations and territory. In this context, the United States’ European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and other possible national contributions were welcomed as a valuable national contribution to the NATO missile defence architecture.
NATO’s work on missile defence started in the early 1990s in response to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, including missiles. Initial focus was on protecting deployed NATO troops (Theatre Missile Defence), but work was expanded in 2002 to include considerations of protection of population centres and territory (Territorial Missile Defence).
Under the NATO plans, a limited system of US anti-missile interceptors and radars already planned for Europe - to include interceptors in Romania and Poland as well as the radar in Turkey - would be linked to expanded European-owned missile defences. That would create a broad system that protects every NATO country against medium-range missile attack.
Russia opposes the planned missile defence system, which it worries could threaten its own nuclear missiles or undermine their deterrence capability. Moscow agreed to consider a NATO proposal last year to cooperate on the missile shield, but insisted the system be run jointly. NATO rejected that demand and no compromise has been found yet.