Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in an interview aired yesterday that his government would object to a potential NATO missile defense system that identified Iran as a particular threat, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Nov. 1).
"NATO is a defense organization. A defense system is being developed against anyone in the world who has ballistic missiles and does not belong to NATO," Gul, whose nations is one of the military alliance's 28 members, told the BBC.
Ahead of next week's summit in Lisbon, Portugal, NATO has yet to formalize the reason for a possible European missile shield. Officials from alliance member states have highlighted Iran in making their case for the system (see GSN, Oct. 15). NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently, though, avoided discussing particular threats the shield would be intended to counter (see GSN, Nov. 3).
"Mentioning one country, Iran ... is wrong and will not happen," said Gul, whose government has warming relations with Tehran. "A particular country will not be targeted. ... We will definitely not accept that."
NATO states are anticipated to determine at the summit whether to officially include missile defense as a core alliance objective. Doing so would allow the organization to move forward with a plan to enhance and integrate national antimissile systems to provide alliance-wide protection.
Ankara would like to see the missile defense system provide full coverage to Turkey and not only the territory that is close to Iran, say diplomats (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, Nov. 8).