Romania’s foreign minister says NATO hasn’t had to activate the anti-missile defense system in southern Romania during the current Middle East crisis, and asserted that the system was defending European allied territory “perfectly.”
Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu spoke Wednesday after a joint parliamentary foreign policy and defense committee meeting with Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, where they discussed the situation in the Middle East.
„From my point of view as the chief negotiator of the agreement which brought this system to Romania, I am happy that the system works and fulfils its functions,” he said.
Aurescu said “the very good news of this crisis” was “the conformation that Aegis Ashore at Deveselu, southern Romania, is very well integrated into NATO and works perfectly.”
Inaugurated in 2015, the anti-missile defense shield, a $1-billion investment, is one of the biggest Washington has made in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
“At the same time, we are happy that we haven’t needed to activate the system to intercept missiles….. but the system covers and protects the allied European territory very well.”
Aurescu said he and Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban discussed the situation in Brussels last week with NATO general-secretary Jens Stoltenberg, asserting the anti-missile system “monitored very well what was happening with the firing of ballistic missiles in this crisis.” He didn’t elaborate.
The crisis began when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.
Defense Minister Ciuca added: “It should be stressed once more than the system is eminently defensive.”
Russia has called for the site to be dismantled and claims that it is not “purely defensive” as NATO claims.
“The site can launch SM-3 Block IB interceptors against ballistic missiles inbound from Iran,” Commander John Fitzpatrick said in a recent interview with RFE/RL at the missile defense base at Deveselu.
He said the 24 SM-3 ballistic missile interceptors at the facility are mounted on a “Mark 41 Vertical Launch System.” The same launchers can be used to fire a range of surface-to-air missiles as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles and other offensive weapons.
Each operator’s station at Deveselu contains three computer screens along with communication systems and launch switches that would be engaged to fire the SM-3s at any incoming missiles during an attack on Europe.