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Missile Threat To Europe Warrants Shield Says NATO Official

Pakistan is fueling fears in Europe with it's testing of nuclear capable missiles (pictured).
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) May 11, 2006
Europe faces an increasing threat from attacks with long-range missiles and could help avert the danger by building a missile defence network, a senior NATO official warned on Wednesday.

"There is a growing threat of long-range missile attack on NATO territory and it is timely to examine ways and means of addressing that threat," said Marshall Billingslea, head of NATO's Conference of National Armaments Directors.

He refused to say which countries posed such a threat, but said they were named in a 10,000-page study handed to NATO ambassadors on Wednesday.

The head of Israel's military intelligence said late last month that Iran, which has taken an increasingly hard-line over its nuclear programme, had purchased North Korean long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Europe.

On April 29, Pakistan successfully test fired a nuclear capable missile with a range of at least 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), the military said.

Billingslea said the feasibility study had found that a missile shield of ground and satellite detectors coupled with "a few land interceptors" could be built at relatively low cost.

The interceptor missiles would be placed in strategic locations around Europe, he added, without elaborating.

He also refused to estimate how much the network might cost.

He said the study, commissioned by NATO leaders in 2002, had come up with several "threat scenarios" and that the price would depend on what, if any missile response, was adopted by the military alliance's 26 member nations.

When asked how long it would take to build the cheapest option, Billingslea said only: "Sooner rather than later."

Four years in the making, the study is to be used to generate "informed debate" at the alliance. NATO leaders are expected to discuss the missile project when they hold their next summit in Riga, Latvia on November 28 and 29.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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