Remarks by NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow
at the Ballistic Missile Defence Site Groundbreaking Ceremony in Deveselu, Romania
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is a historic occasion. And I am honoured to participate and to represent NATO.
Missile threats to Alliance territory and populations are real and growing. NATO’s defence against these threats must be real, too. And it must be able to grow and adapt as the threat evolves. That’s the approach we are taking at NATO.
Three years ago, at our Summit in Lisbon, Allies agreed that ballistic missile defence is an essential mission within our collective defence task, and that we need to develop this capability to ensure our security.
Just 18 months later, at the NATO Summit in Chicago, key elements were in place, and Allies declared an Interim Capability for NATO’s ballistic missile defence system. That system currently offers protection to Allies in Southern Europe. It consists of NATO command and control assets; a US forward-based radar located in Turkey under NATO’s operational control; and the availability of a US Aegis ship capable of intercepting short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
This Interim Capability was a first, but very significant milestone. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony is another important step forward. The facility here in Deveselu will be a crucial component in building up NATO’s overall ballistic missile defence system.
By the end of 2015, this base will be operational and integrated into the overall NATO system. This will make the NATO system more robust. It will increase its level of coverage. And it will enhance the level of protection the Alliance can provide.
But there is another significant aspect to this event. Because it is also a clear demonstration of commitment to NATO -- and to Europe -- by Romania and the United States.
I would like to thank the Romanian authorities for hosting this facility, and to thank the American authorities for providing the Aegis Ashore system that will be stationed here. Together, you are demonstrating the importance of multinational cooperation. That is Smart Defense and it will help us to build a stronger and more capable Alliance.
On behalf of everyone in NATO, and everyone protected by NATO, thank you very much.