The US has welcomed Turkish decision to host a radar in support of NATO's common missile defence efforts and appreciated this as significant contribution to a vital mission of the alliance.
"We are proud to work with Turkey on the deployment of this important asset," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said yesterday.
At the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 2010, Allies agreed to develop a missile defence capability for the full coverage and protection of all NATO European populations, territory, and forces against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles, she said.
"The United States is committed to working with its Allies and partners to defend against the threat of ballistic missiles," Nuland said.
Earlier yesterday, Turkey announced that it would host a NATO early warning radar system, which will go online this year to help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe. The threat is mainly from Iran, officials said. "Turkey's hosting of this element will constitute our country's contribution to the defence system being developed in the framework of NATO's new strategic concept," a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman had said in a statement.
He said the radar will strengthen NATO's defence capacity and Turkey's national defence system and added that the radar system was being allocated by the US.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan said "The idea is a protective system that would protect those NATO allies from ballistic missile threats emanating outside (Europe), whether they came from a non-state actor -- whatever the source is." NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Turkey would be making a "critical contribution" to the alliance's overall defence against emerging ballistic missile threats.
"I welcome Turkey's announcement to host a radar which will be an important element of NATO's missile defence capability, which was agreed at the Lisbon summit last November," he said.