With reporting from Ivan Watson in Istanbul
An early warning radar station that is part of NATO's controversial missile defense system in Europe is now operational in Turkey, a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.
The station is located in the city of Malatya, about 400 miles southeast of the capital Ankara, and is manned by both Turkish and U.S. personnel, the spokesman said.
Turkey is one of five countries that have agreed to deploy parts of the U.S.-designed defense system. Portugal, Poland, Romania and Spain have also agreed to participate.
NATO 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. The United States and its European allies have insisted the system is directed toward countering ballistic missile threats from such Middle East countries as Iran.
Iran - Turkey's eastern neighbor - has publicly objected to the NATO system. Ali Larijani, Iran's speaker of parliament, repeated his opposition to it during a visit to Turkey last week.
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