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US, NATO announce completion of a new missile site in Romania

The Aegis Ashore missile complex in Romania

The US and NATO have announced the completion of a new missile site in southern Romania to supposedly thwart potential threats from the Middle East.

A joint statement issued Friday by Romania and the US said the "major military components of the Aegis Ashore Missile" system in the southern town of Deveselu have been handed over to the US Navy and US European Command.

The Aegis Ashore site includes a powerful radar, missile interceptors and communications equipment and is expected to be ready for initial combat use in early 2016.

The missile site has been handed over to military commanders and will be integrated with NATO's broader ballistic missile system.

"Between now and the summer, military operators will train and conduct exercises and additional testing, readying for a NATO Initial Operational Capability," said Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency.

The United States has previously claimed that the system is designed to defend Europe against potential attacks from Iran.

Russia has objected to the deployment, but the US and NATO have said that it does not have the capacity to threaten Russia.

US ambassador Hans Klemm, speaking at a joint ceremony with Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu, said the shield was designed to thwart potential threats coming from outside Europe.

"It is not, I repeat, not directed at Russia, nor does it have the capability to threaten Russia. We have explained this to Russia on numerous occasions," Klemm said.

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