Turkey Seeks Command of NATO Missile Shield


From Marc Champion, the Wall Street Journal:  Turkey said it would seek a leading role in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile-defense shield if it is to agree to host the system’s radars, ratcheting up its conditions days before a key alliance meeting.

Turkey would demand that NATO assign a Turkish commander to oversee the shield, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday. "Especially if this is to be placed on our soil, [command] definitely should be given to us—otherwise it is not possible to accept," Mr. Erdogan told journalists at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on Monday, according to Anadolu Ajansi, Turkey’s state-funded news agency.

Sharpening his country’s position ahead of a summit of NATO leaders in Lisbon this week, Mr. Erdogan said Turkey’s other top concerns include where the system’s radar sensors would be deployed and where debris from any intercepted missiles would fall. "This will be discussed at the Lisbon summit. If we reach an agreement, that’s great. If not, there’s nothing more to say," he said. …

A European ambassador to NATO said the Turks have become "difficult" on the missile-defense issue in recent weeks. A U.S. defense official said that in one-on-one meetings with U.S. officials last week, Turkish officials hadn’t requested command of the defense system. …

"Negotiations between the allies are still going on and the Turks are obviously playing hardball," said a NATO official who declined to be identified. The official said discussion at the summit would likely focus on issues "of principle," including whether to name Iran in the threat assessment and whether the system would cover the entire Turkish territory, as Turkey desires.

But the official said that most of what Mr. Erdogan referred to Monday—such as in whose hands the system’s command and control would be placed—would likely be negotiated after the summit. That is especially true if Russia also agrees to cooperate with the shield, as the allies hope. Moscow’s involvement would require extensive negotiation, the official said.  (photo: Reuters)

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