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Obama Praises Acceptance of NATO’s New Strategic Concept

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2010 – President Barack Obama said decisions NATO heads of state made in Lisbon today have fully aligned the alliance’s vision and approach to collective security for the 21st century.

As part of the new Strategic Concept for NATO, the leaders agreed to a missile defense initiative, to beef up cybersecurity and to face the threats of terrorism.

The president also used the lectern at Lisbon to push for passage of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty this year.

“After a year of discussions – and sometimes debate – the new Strategic Concept that we are embracing shows that NATO is fully united about the way forward and committing to addressing the full range of security challenges of this century,” the president said during a press availability following the first set of meetings in the Portuguese capital.

The alliance reaffirmed its centerpiece – the Article 5 commitment an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. “Just as we will always back up that commitment with the conventional and nuclear strength that is necessary to defend our allies, we are now backing up that commitment with new capabilities as well,” the president said.

NATO leaders agreed to develop missile defense capability large enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations, as well as the United States, he said. “This important step forward builds on the new phased adaptive approach to missile defense that I announced for the United States last year,” Obama said. “It offers a role for all of our allies. It responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles.”

The president said the alliance will meet with Russia tomorrow to build missile defense cooperation with the understanding that Russia and NATO share many of the same threats.

The alliance also will look at developing more deployable forces and to combat cyberthreats.

Obama said the New START treaty is a U.S. national security imperative. “We need to ratify New START to put in place on-the-ground inspections of Russian nuclear arsenals, to reduce our deployed weapons and launchers, and to build on our cooperation with Russia, which has helped us put pressure on Iran and helped us to equip our mission in Afghanistan,” he said.

He said fellow leaders at the NATO meeting also stressed the need for the new pact. “The message that I’ve received since I’ve arrived from my fellow leaders here at NATO could not be clearer: New START will strengthen our alliance and it will strengthen European security,” he said.

Failure to ratify the treaty will risk the substantial progress that has been made in advancing nuclear security and the U.S. partnership with Russia on behalf of global security, Obama said.

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