Though it was far from the focus of the high-profile Chicago summit, NATO today announced that the European missile defense shield is “provisionally operational,” and has reached “stage one.”
Officially, this means that the US transferred control of the radar system in Turkey to NATO’s command, and has direct control over the missile defense systems on board US ships in the region. The system is not expected to be fully operational until 2018.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today’s announcement was an important first step toward that end, and that eventually NATO would have full coverage of all of Europe’s population.
The missile defense system has created enormous tensions with Russia, as NATO insists that the system is targeting Iran, but is deployed almost exclusively along the Russian frontier, and outside of the range of Iran’s best missiles.