NATO Approves Turkey’s Request to Extend Deployment of Patriot Missiles

Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, December 7, 2011NATO allies backed keeping Patriot missiles in Turkey on Wednesday, agreeing with Ankara that threats from the civil war in Syria remained serious, an alliance official said.

The Netherlands, Germany and the United States, which deployed the missiles to Turkey, must now take national decisions on keeping them there, the official said. . . .

NATO ambassadors discussed the situation on Wednesday and “agreed that the overall risks and threats to Turkey remain serious,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. They did not specify how much longer the missiles should remain.

“Ambassadors noted that the instability along NATO’s southeastern border requires … the extension of the deployment of the Patriot missiles,” he said. “The nature of the mission will remain defensive only.”

Several top NATO leaders have voiced concern over Turkey’s provisional decision in September to buy a Chinese missile defense system in a $3.4 billion deal in preference to rivals, including Raytheon Co’s Patriot system.

Image: Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, December 7, 2011 (photo: NATO)