US: Radar intelligence to protect all NATO allies

US: Radar intelligence to protect all NATO allies

Victoria Nuland

October 12, 2011, Wednesday/ 12:11:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Intelligence to be gathered from a NATO early warning radar system planned to be deployed in Turkey to help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe will be used to protect all NATO allies, a US official has said, declining to say whether it will also be shared with Israel.

During a daily press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked whether intelligence gathered through the early warning radar as part of a NATO missile defense system would be shared with Israel through the United States or NATO.

“This is a NATO system that Turkey is contributing to. We're very grateful for Turkey taking on this role within NATO. The information from the radar is designed to protect all NATO allies,” Nuland briefly replied.

Earlier this month, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said Ankara trusts the promise of NATO member states to keep their intelligence within the alliance and to not share it with Israel, Turkey's new foe.

Yılmaz said one should trust the NATO member states' pledge that they will not share the intelligence they gather from NATO's early warning radar system, which is in southeast Turkey and will serve as part of the alliance's missile defense system. Yılmaz also warned that this intelligence cannot be used outside of NATO member states, referring to Israel.

Turkish-Israeli relations were badly damaged after Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in breach of an Israeli naval blockade, killing nine Turkish civilians. Turkey demands an official apology, compensation to the families of the victims and an end to the Gaza blockade. Israel claims its soldiers acted in self-defense.

Last year, Turkey's leaders also repeatedly asked NATO during the alliance summit in Lisbon not to share intelligence from radar systems with Israel. Turkey agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran. Ankara claims the shield does not target a specific country and had threatened to block the deal if Iran was explicitly named as a threat.

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