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‘Turkey is under the threat of Iran’s short and medium range missiles’ claims US Ambassador to NATO
Editor's note: This article has been translated from Turkish by Cem Ertür from Campaign Iran.
Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gül, has said that Turkey will not be rushing to comply with the UN sanctions on Iran and that Turkey’s territory will not be used as a base for any attack on Iran. The following day, the US Ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, declared that Turkey is under the threat of Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles. “Turkey and the USA concur on the increasingly serious nature of the nuclear threat posed by Iran”, she said. After attending meetings at the Foreign Ministry and General Staff Headquarters in Ankara, Nuland, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Ankara, Ross Wilson, gave the following answers to questions posed by a group of journalists:
What type of work are you undertaking in the area of missile defence?
We are performing a two-thronged strategy within NATO. USA is developing a system in order to protect itself and its allies from long-range missiles of Iran and other countries, while co-operating with the UK, Denmark, Czech Republic and Poland at the same time. Once we make progress, this system will cover most of the territories of the NATO members and there will be no need for a second system within NATO. But the threat of Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles is still present for countries like Turkey. In order to counter that, as USA and Turkey, we are working bilaterally as well as within the NATO framework. At this stage, what matters to us, as Turkey and USA, is also what we are striving to achieve together within NATO: To remind everyone that Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles are a threat for today rather than for tomorrow, that we all need to work together.
In the event of a missile attack, will Turkey’s territories be protected by the US system?
If a long-range missile were to be launched from Iran, then areas in Turkey threatened by this missile will be under protection. As for the short- and medium-range missiles, cooperation with vulnerable countries like Turkey will be undertaken either bilaterally or within the NATO framework.
Advice to Turkey
Wilson: This issue was raised during the Turkish-US high-level defence group meetings in December. We advised Turkey to take a long look at short- and medium-range missile defence systems. The Turkish government initiated activities as well. As far as we know, US Patriot and Russian S-400 systems are the two candidates.
Will you have demands from Turkey about the long-range missile system?
At this stage we are not negotiating with any country other than the four mentioned earlier.
What does Iran possess?
Iran possesses Shahab-3/ER (1350 km range) missiles, capable of hitting Ankara and other centres, within the same range, with these missiles. Iran will be able reach beyond Istanbul and Edirne with Zelzal-3 (1500 km range) and Shahab-4 (2000 km range) missiles it has developed recently. Iran’s medium-range missiles are Scud-B (300 km range), Zelzal-2 (400 km range) and Scud-C (550 km range).
Be flexible in Afghanistan
Asked whether the US is “expecting further contribution from Turkey in Afghanistan”, Nuland said:
“We are appreciating Turkey’s willingness to assume the Regional Command of Kabul by increasing its presence in Afghanistan. Our commanders need more flexible troops that are capable of going wherever necessary; for instance units capable of giving support to the helicopter force when required. We will persist in our demands from all countries to maintain there as many soldiers as possible and to be as flexible as possible in their use.”