Turkey, US sign deal on NATO radar deployment

Missile radar will be installed in a military facility in Turkey's central Anatolian region

Turkey, US sign deal on NATO radar deployment

Turkey and US officials have signed a memorandum on the deployment of US radar as part of a NATO-backed missile defense system designed to protect European members of the alliance from missile threats.

According to the memorandum, the X-band radar system will be deployed at a military base in the eastern province of Malatya, private NTV television reported on Wednesday. The agreement was signed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone at the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday morning.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed that the radar system would be deployed in Kürecik, Malatya. "The site surveys and relevant legal arrangements have been finalized, and accordingly a military installation in Kürecik has been designated as the radar site," a statement from the Foreign Ministry said.

NATO members agreed to an anti-missile system over Europe to protect against Iranian ballistic missiles at a summit in Lisbon last year. A compromise was reached with Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with its neighbor Iran and had threatened to block the deal if Iran was explicitly named as a threat.

At the NATO summit of heads of state and government in Lisbon last year, Turkey formally backed NATO plans to build a missile defense system, saying it will also contribute to national defense against the growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation.

The summit came after months of discussions between Turkey and the US, in particular over some aspects of the proposed shield, most notably whether countries such as Turkey's neighbors Iran and Syria should be named as potential threats.

Ankara insisted that the proposed system should provide protection for all territories of member states and that reference to any country would undermine the defensive nature of the shield by antagonizing countries singled out as a threat. Turkish insistence paid off in the end as the NATO summit endorsed the missile defense system plans without naming any country as a potential threat.

Ankara on Sept. 2 announced its decision to host the early warning radar system as a contribution to NATO's missile defense system. Turkey's decision annoyed Iran, which said Tehran would not tolerate any aggression against its national interests. "The West claims the radar system [in Turkey] is to confront Iranian missiles, but they should be aware that we will not tolerate any aggression against our national interests," Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying by Iranian state TV.

The Turkish and US governments say the radar system will help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe, including potentially from Iran. The system, provided by the United States, is to become operational later this year.

Cihan news agency

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Eylül 2011, 17:42