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NATO Missile Shield Could Include Bulgaria, Minister Says

Bulgaria's top defense official suggested today that his government might participate in a potential NATO system for defending alliance member states from missile attacks, the Xinhua News Agency reported (see GSN, Feb. 9).

Defense Minister Anyu Angelov told journalists he would travel to the United States on Saturday for a weeklong trip and that he expects to be given details there "from the primary source about the future NATO shield" and to talk about the "improvement of the Bulgarian national air defense system which under certain conditions may act as NATO missile shield."

The Obama administration has proposed to field over several phases sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe as a hedge against possible missile attacks from Iran. Bulgaria has been identified as one possible host nation for the system.

NATO allies are expected to vote during a November summit in Portugal whether to jointly pursue a missile defense system (see GSN, May 6). The plan, Reuters has reported, would be to establish a command and control system that would connect national missile defenses already in place to cover civilians in addition to the alliance troops who are already protected.

Nations like Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey require missile defenses as "they are in the range of missiles launched from the Middle East" and thus should be "promoters of the missile shield," Angelov said (Xinhua News Agency, June 25).

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