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.