NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has welcomed an agreement on missile defense deployment that has come into force between the United States and Poland.
The United States will deploy elements of a missile defense shield in Poland by 2018. The United States and Poland said in a joint statement on Thursday that the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement of 2008 and its Amending Protocol of 2010 on deployment of the land-based SM-3 system within Poland has entered into force, effective as of September 15, 2011.
"This agreement is yet another sign of progress for NATO's missile defense system which will defend against current and emerging ballistic missile threats," Rasmussen said in a statement on the NATO website.
"The missile defense base will significantly contribute to NATO's capability to provide protection to its European territory, populations and forces against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles."
The system will be located at the Redzikowo Military Base, the statement added, calling it "a significant contribution by our two nations to a future NATO missile defense capability."
Russia has retained staunch opposition to the deployment of missile-defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat.
NATO says it needs the shield, which will be eventually deployed in the Mediterranean, Poland, Romania and Turkey, to counter the threat of missile attacks from Iran.