NATO radar system in Turkey up, running

NATO radar system in Turkey up, running

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
NATO radar system in Turkey up, running

Despite the strong opposition from Iran, an early warning radar system in Turkey has recently become operational. Hürriyet photo

An early warning radar system deployed in the eastern Anatolian province of Malatya began its surveillance activities Jan. 1, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from reliable sources. A small number of U.S. troops were deployed to the military base at Kürecik in Malatya in the last week of 2011 since the Turkish military has no qualified personnel to run the U.S. AN/TPY-2 (X-band) early warning radar system. Despite the deployment, the installation is a Turkish base and will be commanded by a Turkish high-ranking officer, the source said.

Turkey joined the NATO-led nuclear defense program only after its conditions were addressed by the alliance. It agreed to the deployment of the early warning radar system on its territory in mid-2011 while the alliance, in turn, agreed to the posting of a high-ranking Turkish general at NATO headquarters in Germany, where intelligence gathered through the radar system will be processed.

Details of the radar system’s functions were discussed during a visit by Gen. Knud Bartels, NATO’s recently appointed military committee chairman, to Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel on Jan. 9. Iran, which is already in a spat with the United States over its controversial nuclear program, has strongly opposed Turkey’s move to deploy the radar.

“The U.S. radar stationed in Turkey is no good for any Muslim country,” Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani told Turkey late Jan. 12 at a press conference while demanding further information on the matter. “But we have confidence in our Turkish friends.”

‘Radar system defensive’
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu informed top Iranian officials about the system during a visit to Tehran last week. “We made clear that this is a purely defensive [system] against any ballistic threat,” one source said.

Another regional country critical of NATO’s missile defense program is Russia. According to the source, Davutoğlu will pay a visit to Moscow in late January and will inform his counterparts on the details of the radar system deployed in Turkey if the Russian side raises the issue.

In the meantime, Washington said it hoped to reach a deal with Russia by the end of the year for the deployment of a ballistic missile shield in Europe, the State Department’s top arms control official said.
“We will get a missile defense agreement for cooperation with Russia,” Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher said Jan. 12, according the Foreign Policy magazine website.
“This is the place where we can begin to put the Cold War and ‘mutually assured destruction’ aside, and move toward ‘mutually assured stability.’”

Russia to be reassured
The U.S. has long wanted to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe it says would be directed at Iran, but Russia has objected, saying such a system would undercut its own nuclear deterrent.

“The only way they are going to be assured [...] the system does not undercut their strategic deterrent is to sit with us in the tent in NATO and see what we are doing. They will only be their own eyes and ears,” Tauscher said.

“Is it a political leap of faith? Yes. Are they ready to do it? No. But we are hoping these strategic stability talks over the next eight months will start to loosen these old ties that have been binding everybody in the old way of thinking,” she said.

President Dmitry Medvedev said in November that Moscow was prepared to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave bordering EU members Poland and Lithuania in response to the deployment of a missile shield.