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Turkey joins NATO’s missile defence shield

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ANKARA (AP): An early warning radar will be stationed in Turkey’s southeast as part of NATO’s missile defence system, the foreign ministry announced Wednesday.

The system is capable of countering ballistic missile threats from Turkey’s neighbour Iran, which last week warned Turkey that deployment of the radar at the military installation would escalate regional tensions.

Turkey insists the shield is not targeting a particular country and the ministry statement made no mention of Iran.

Turkey agreed to host the radar in September in the framework of the NATO missile defence architecture, saying it would strengthen both its own and NATO’s defence capacities.

“In this context, the site surveys and relevant legal arrangements have also been finalised, and accordingly a military installation in Kurecik has been designated as the radar site,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal said.

“That installation was used in the past for similar purposes,” the minister said.

Kurecik in Malatya province lies some 700 kilometres west of the Iranian border.

In September, Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan said the United States hopes to have the radar deployed there by the end of the year.

Turkey’s announcement came a day after Romania signed a deal to host a crucial part of a US missile defence system that Romania’s President Traian Basescu said would bolster security in the US and Europe. Basescu announced the deal after meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

NATO members agreed to an anti-missile system over Europe to protect against Iranian ballistic missiles at a summit in Lisbon, Portugal, last year. A compromise not to pinpoint Iran was reached with Turkey, which had threatened to block the deal if its neighbour was explicitly named as a threat.

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