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U.S., Romania sign missile defense agreement

(Xinhua)

09:14, September 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, Sep. 12 (Xinhua) -- The United States and Romania signed a ballistic missile defense agreement in Washington, D.C Tuesday, allowing for the deployment of SM-3 interceptors in the East European nation by 2015 that will target short and medium- range missiles.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who signed the accord with Teodor Baconschi, her Romanian counterpart, at the U.S. State Department, hailed the agreement as "another important milestone in the long history of cooperation and friendship between our two countries."

Upon ratification by the Romanian Parliament, the deal will allow the U.S. to construct, maintain and operate a facility encompassing the land-based SM-3 ballistic missile defense system at the Deveselu Air Base near Caracal, Romania, which will provide a defensive capability to protect Europe and the U.S. against ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East, the State Department said.

"This agreement is an important step in our efforts to protect from the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles of increasingly greater ranges, lethality and sophistication, and potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction," the U.S. department said.

In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama revamped the missile defense plan adopted by the Bush administration for a radar site and interceptor rockets in the Czech Republic and Poland, which had met vehement opposition from Russia.

In their summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in November last year, NATO leaders agreed to develop a missile defense shield, linking systems in the United States and Europe to protect member states from long-range attacks.

The shield, which will be deployed in stages from 2011 until 2020 and involves the deployment of U.S. interceptor missiles and radar in Europe, will be capable of intercepting long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Briefing reporters on the U.S.-Romania agreement, a senior U.S. official reiterated that the system does not target Russia and does not cover Russia's strategic defense system.

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