NATO, Russia push ahead with counterterrorism partnership
April 23, 2013
NATO and Russia will soon test jointly developed explosive-detecting technology designed to provide protection against terrorist attacks in crowded places such as metro stations, the alliance announced Tuesday.
The announcement, which comes on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings, said the test will be carried out in June in an unnamed European capital, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
“These are concrete examples of our expanding cooperation,” said Fogh Rasmussen following a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at alliance headquarters in Brussels.
In September, the NATO-Russia joint air traffic system will conduct a live exercise to defend against terrorist threats to civilian aircraft.
Meanwhile, Fogh Rasmussen acknowledged that NATO and Russia remain at odds over the alliance’s missile defense plans for Europe. He said the two sides need to press forward with more talks on the contentious issue.
Secretary of State John Kerry, in Brussels for his first NATO meeting, was expected to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, during Tuesday’s talks.
The focus on counterterrorism efforts comes in the wake of last week’s attack in Boston, which was carried out by two brothers with roots in the Russian republic of Dagestan.
Russia, which has been engaged in a long running battle against Islamic militants in Chechnya, warned U.S. officials in 2011 that the elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had possible links to extremists in Russia. Moscow has frequently complained that Washington and its NATO allies have ignored its struggle against Islamic militants in the country’s troubled southern republics.
Earlier Tuesday, NATO’s foreign ministers also met to discuss a range of security issues including North Korea and recent developments across the Middle East and North Africa.
“We can all see that the situation in Syria is getting worse,” Fogh Rasmussen said. “We cannot ignore the risks of a regional spillover with possible implications for allied security. NATO has come to the support of Turkey with the rapid deployment of Patriots, but we must continue to remain vigilant.”
While NATO has deployed six Patriot missile batteries to Turkey to protect its ally from a possible strike from Syria, it remains unlikely that the alliance will directly intervene in the 2-year-old conflict.
Fogh Rasmussen, meanwhile, declined to comment on the validity of recent reports that Syria has used chemical weapons, which has been described as a “red line” that could provoke an international intervention.
“We are extremely concerned about the use of ballistic missiles in Syria and the possible use of chemical weapons,” Fogh Rasmussen said.
Officials also discussed the path forward in Afghanistan as NATO prepares to end combat operations by the end of 2014, which is when the alliance will shift to a training mission in the war-torn country.
In connection with that, NATO still needs to formulate a concrete funding plan for Afghanistan’s military post-2014.
“This will send a clear message of commitment,” Fogh Rasmussen said.
NATO also issued a statement regarding the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It urged the North to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile program and refrain from the fiery rhetoric of recent weeks.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons, and its recent inflammatory and threatening rhetoric,” Fogh Rasmussen said.