US, Nato to activate missile defence site in Romania

The US will switch on an $800 million missile defense site in southern Romania on May 12, a move likely to infuriate Moscow.

“Both the US and Nato have made it clear the system is not designed for or capable of undermining Russia’s strategic deterrence capability,” US assistant secretary of state Frank Rose told a news conference in Bucharest on May 11. “Russia has repeatedly raised concerns that the US and Nato defence are directed against Russia and represent a threat to its strategic nuclear deterrent. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Rose instead cited Iran as the targeted threat.

“Iran continues to develop, test and deploy a full range of ballistic missile capabilities and those capabilities are increasing in range and accuracy,” he said.

Work on the Deveselu site began in October 2013, after an initial decision by Nato in 2010 to create a missile shield based on US technology. The project, which includes building sites in Poland as well as Romania, is expected to be completed in 2020.

Nato insists the role of the planned shield is a “purely defensive” response to external threats.