NATO's Euro missile defense program will become fully operational by 2018, the alliance's chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday.
"We would expect it to be fully operational in 2018," Rasmussen said after the meeting of the NATO states' defense ministers in Brussels.
Later on Wednesday Spain is expected to announce its decision to join the Euro missile defense project along with Romania, Poland, the Netherlands and Turkey, which have already agreed to deploy key components of the future missile defense network on their territories.
Rasmussen said he would not be surprised if there will be "further announcements in the comings weeks and months as regards new inputs from other countries."
Russia is insisting on a joint system with full-scale interoperability to ensure that NATO's system will not be directed against Moscow. The alliance, however, favors two independent systems that exchange information.
U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle said in an interview with Russian business daily Kommersant on Monday that Russia and the U.S. will sign an agreement on the information exchange system of the European missile shield during the NATO summit in Chicago.
The ambassador said the information exchange system will include an exchange of technology as well as two command centers aimed at tracking missile launches all over the world and analyzing possible threats.