Politics Defence

NATO : Spain signs up to anti-missile shield

6 October 2011
Presseurop
Público

Público, 6 October 2011

Spain, following the lead of Turkey, Poland and Romania, will participate in NATO's anti-missile shield, Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, said in a surprise announcement on October 5, in Brussels. "Zapatero cedes Rota," runs a headline in left-leaning Spanish daily Público. Zapatero explained that the naval base at Rota, located in southern Spain, near Cadiz, which is already part of the NATO system, will host a further four US war ships, equipped with anti-missile batteries and as well as 1300 additional US troops. Spain will thus become "a key component of the European defence system," the paper says, adding that "the leftist parties and the pacifist movements reject the decision". Zapatero justifies it saying it will bring some jobs as well as economic benefits to the area, the paper explains. Then, comments on the irony of how the PM got from the "Alliance for Civilisations [a peace initiative] to the anti-missile shield," especially since "in 2001 he was opposed to George W. Bush's plan [for an anti-missile shield] supported by [his predecessor, Conservative José María] Aznar".  Público explains that the means deployed at Rota will be "one of the three pillars" of the shield, aimed at protecting Europe against ballistic missiles coming from Iran or North Korea. The other two pillars include a radar in Turkey and ground-to-air batteries in Poland and Romania. It will be operational as of 2012 and completed in 2018.