NATO's Ballistic Missile Defense effort has achieved initial operational capability, according to a communique issued subsequent to a July 8-9 meeting of the North Atlantic Council.
"This is a significant step toward the aim of NATO BMD that offers a stronger capability to defend our populations, territory, and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack," the communique states, adding: "The Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, Romania represents a significant portion of this increase in capability, and the command and control (C2) of the Aegis Ashore site is being transferred to NATO. We also welcome that Turkey hosts a forward-based early-warning BMD radar at Kürecik and that Poland will be hosting an Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo military base. We are also pleased that additional voluntary national contributions have been offered by Allies, and we encourage further voluntary contributions, all of which will add robustness to the capability."
The communique emphasizes that the NATO BMD capability will have "full political control by allies."
"We will continue to deepen political oversight of NATO BMD as the capability develops," according to the document, which adds: "It is essential that the functionality of the Alliance C2 network for BMD matches that development. In this context, the next necessary major milestone for NATO BMD capability will be the completion of the next core element of the NATO BMD C2. Overall completion of the NATO BMD C2 will then provide the additional functionalities required for the BMD system to reach maturity."
The NATO ministers also resolved to further develop the alliance's engagement with non-alliance countries "on a case-by-case basis, to enhance transparency and confidence and to increase ballistic missile defence effectiveness. This could involve information exchange, consultation, and cooperation." They reiterated that NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia nor would it undermine Russia's strategic deterrence capabilities.
"NATO missile defence is intended to defend against potential threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area," the communique reads. "We have explained to Russia many times that the BMD system is not capable against Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent and there is no intention to redesign this system to have such a capability in the future. Hence, Russian statements threatening to target Allies because of NATO BMD are unacceptable and counterproductive. Should Russia be ready to discuss BMD with NATO, and subject to Alliance agreement, NATO remains open to discussion."