US, NATO certify anti-missile defense site in south Romania

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. and NATO officials on Friday certified an anti-missile defense site in southern Romania that is scheduled to become operational next year.

Russia has objected to the deployment, but officials insisted that the U.S-led shield is designed to protect NATO members from possible attacks from the Middle East

A joint statement issued Friday by Romania and the U.S. said the "major military components of the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System" in the southern town of Deveselu have been handed over to the U.S. Navy and U.S. European Command

"It is not, I repeat, not directed at Russia, nor does it have the capability to threaten Russia. We have explained this to Russia on numerous occasions." Said Hans G. Klemm, the U.S. ambassador to Romania.

"Between now and the summer, military operators will train and conduct exercises and additional testing, readying for a NATO Initial Operational Capability," said Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency.

Last week the first intercept test of the Aegis Ashore missile defense test against a medium-range ballistic missile successfully took place at a base in Hawaii, Syring said.

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