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By the CNN Wire Staff
NATO's chief says the alliance now has interim ballistic missile defense capability in Europe, a move that is likely to further heighten tensions with Russia over its objection to a missile defense shield.
"It is the first step towards our long-term goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Sunday, the first day of a two-day NATO summit in Chicago.
Among the so-called interim capabilities are missile interceptors loaded on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean, the first of four anticipated warships with the defense system, Rasmussen said. A defense radar is also operational in Turkey, he said.
NATO has asked Russia to participate in the system but negotiations have been deadlocked over Russia's demand for a legally binding treaty guaranteeing the shield would not be used as a deterrent to Moscow's own systems.