NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the Patriot missiles to be deployed on the Turkish-Syrian border to counter threats from Syria will be under NATO control.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the NATO decision endorsing the deployment of missiles will be made in the coming days. Approval by the parliaments of member countries are required for the organization to send the missiles. The missile system's transport, expected to be by sea, will also take time.
Rasmussen also announced that the missiles will remain under NATO control. The missiles will be installed by NATO allies and will be under the command of the alliance, said Rasmussen.
Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz had earlier said that NATO's Air Command Control System (ACCS) will head the command center for the missile system, adding that Turkish officials are included in the ACCS's ranks. Hüseyin Çelik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said in a recent press briefing that “Turkey will be holding the trigger.”
Rasmussen added that the alliance will not hesitate to take “further steps” to ensure Turkey's security and that the group will make their formal decision on Turkey's request for Patriot missiles “within days.”
Commenting on Russia's concern over the deployment of the Patriot missiles, Rasmussen said Moscow's anxiety is not based on legitimate concerns.
Russia said openly last Thursday that it opposes the deployment of NATO Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria, a sign of deepening tensions across the region over the Syrian crisis.
Asked about the financing of the missiles, Rasmussen said countries providing the missiles will take on the financial burden, although the host country will also contribute to the costs. Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are the only three NATO allies with appropriate Patriot surface-to-air missile systems available.
The Patriot missiles deployed to Turkey during the Gulf Wars were provided by the Netherlands.
Ankara twice this year has invoked Article 4 of the NATO charter, which provides for consultations when a member state feels that its territorial integrity, political independence or security is under threat.
But some experts noted that deploying Patriots to Turkey is partly symbolic, aimed at showing that NATO is behind Turkey.
Manufacturer Raytheon says Patriot missiles provide "a reliable and lethal capability to defeat advanced threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs [drones].”