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POLITICS > Patriots in Turkey cannot protect Israel from Iran, minister says

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"It is not technically possible for a missile, the target of which could be 36 kilometers away, to intercept a missile launched from Iran to Israel,” Defense Minister Yılmaz said. AA photo

"It is not technically possible for a missile, the target of which could be 36 kilometers away, to intercept a missile launched from Iran to Israel,” Defense Minister Yılmaz said. AA photo

Once again refuting the opposition’s claim that the Patriot missile system deployed in Turkish territories by NATO actually aims to protect Israel from Iran, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has stated that such protection is technically impossible.

The operational command of the system will belong to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in order to fulfill legitimate defense in the most effective way, Yılmaz said Feb. 5.

“Some of our colleagues lodged claims that ‘the target of the deployment of these [Patriots] is aimed at protecting Israel from missiles to be launched from Iran,’ which does not at all comply with the truth. It is not technically possible for a missile, the target of which could be 36 kilometers away, to intercept a missile launched from Iran to Israel,” Yılmaz said in an address to Parliament informing lawmakers of the NATO deployment of Patriot missiles in the face of a probable threat from Syria.

“Patriots are not weapons of attack. Taking into consideration the fact that it is solely a defense system, the firing authority should be held at the level that can fulfill legitimate defense in the most effective way. In this regard, the command of the Patriots will be held by the Allied Commander Europe,” Yılmaz said.

Not only the opposition parties in Turkey but officials from neighboring Iran also suggested that the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey was designed to protect Israel from Iranian threats. Last month, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast said the missiles were “placed by NATO and the West to protect Israel” against possible incoming Iranian missiles.

Three NATO allies – the United States, Germany and the Netherlands – each committed to sending two batteries and up to 400 soldiers to operate them after Ankara asked for help to bolster its air defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.

Currently, five of six Patriot batteries belonging to Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. are operating in Turkey, with a second U.S. Patriot battery expected to become operational in the coming days as construction at its future site in the southeastern Anatolian province of Gaziantep nears completion.

February/06/2013

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