Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work helped to inaugurate the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense site here today, citing threats from Iran as a reason why NATO needs the protection.

“As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with our allies and partners to defend NATO and its allies against this threat,” Work said at the site, located on a former Romanian air base.

Iran has been very aggressive in ballistic missile development, which is extremely troubling to the 28-member NATO alliance, Work said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described today’s dedication as an “important day for NATO and for trans-Atlantic security.”

The Aegis Ashore site will further boost NATO’s ability to counter the threat from ballistic missiles, Stoltenberg said. “The threat to NATO allies from missiles outside the Euro-Atlantic area is real,” he added. “Several countries are seeking to develop or acquire them.”

Today’s ceremony marked operational certification of the Deveselu site, which has radar and interceptors to provide ballistic-missile deterrent coverage of southern Europe.

Work and other officials will attend a groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow in Redzikowo, Poland, for a second Aegis Ashore site. Both sites are part of NATO’s ballistic missile defense system aimed at protecting the 28 members of the alliance.

NATO Ballistic Missile Defense Not Aimed At Russia

The NATO ballistic missile defense system is to protect alliance countries from any short- and medium-range attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic region, Work said. It is not aimed at countering any Russian threat, he emphasized.

“This site, nor the site in Poland, has any capability — none whatsoever — to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent,” Work said. “It is a defensive system. It is fully compliant with existing arms control regimes.”

Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said the site in his country is “defensive and not offensive.”

The NATO secretary general said Russian officials know the system is not directed at their country. He added that Moscow knows that geography and physics make it “impossible” for the system to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent.

Protection for NATO Countries

The Aegis Ashore site is the land-based capability of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, officials said. It is part of NATO’s larger ballistic missile defense system.

Turkey hosts the ballistic missile defense tracking radar, officials said. The NATO command-and-control center is in Germany, and four U.S. Aegis ballistic missile defense ships are homeported in Rota, Spain.

In addition, the United Kingdom is investing in ground-based radar, while Denmark and the Netherlands are upgrading their frigates with new radar, Work noted.

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“All of these complementary efforts will provide both a quantitative and qualitative increase in NATO’s [ballistic missile defense] capability and the capacity to strengthen NATO’s defensive capabilities,” he said.

‘Special Importance’ of Event

At the ceremony in the countryside about 100 miles west of Bucharest, the Romanian prime minister noted the importance of the day.

“Our presence here is a testament to the special importance of this moment for both Romania and the United States, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European security at large,” he said.

Featured Content: DoD

Featured Image- The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Operational Test Agency, in conjunction with U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. European Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, successfully conducted the first intercept flight test of a land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system and Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile, launched from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii. – DVIDS