NATO chief determined to move ahead with shield

NATO chief determined to move ahead with shield

NATO chief determined to move ahead with shield

A Russian military officer is on duty in the main control center of a radar station at the missile defense facility in Sofrino, 50 kilometers of northeast of Moscow. AP photo

NATO’s chief yesterday expressed the Western alliance’s determination to move ahead with building an operational missile defense system, following what he called its first successful comprehensive test.

After a NATO summit in Chicago later this month, “we will continue to expand the system toward full operational capability,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote in an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal.

“The alliance has already developed an initial command-and-control system to link the U.S. assets with sensors and interceptors provided by European allies,” Rasmussen said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I expect more announcements in the months and years ahead.” NATO leaders are hoping to declare the start of an “interim capability” for the missile shield at the summit in Chicago May 20 to 21.

‘Russia attending NATO summit’

Rasmussen also announced that last month NATO conducted the first comprehensive test of missile-defense capability, during which a U.S. ship, radar and satellite, as well as interceptor batteries from Germany and the Netherlands, conducted a series of simulated engagements to test the alliance’s ability to defend against missile attacks.

He said the test was successful. Meanwhile, a high-ranking Russian diplomat will attend the NATO summit in Chicago, daily Kommersant reported yesterday, quoting diplomatic sources. Zamir Kabulov, the presidential envoy to Afghanistan who also heads a Foreign Ministry department in charge of Afghanistan, will most likely fly to Chicago, the source told the paper according to Russian Ria Novosti news agency.

There has been no official confirmation of the report. Russia had been reluctant to accept an invitation from Rasmussen to join the summit, which will focus on the situation in Afghanistan, as well as on the alliance’s European missile defense plans.