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NATO Summit: European Missile Shield Declared Up And Running

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NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen, and NATO military defense leadership observe a NATO defense system exhibit, Sunday, May 20, 2012, during the NATO Summit in Chicago.(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) | AP

CHICAGO -- NATO says that its European missile shield is up and running with a basic capability to shoot down incoming missiles.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Sunday the declaration of "interim capability" at the alliance's summit in Chicago is a first step toward a goal of establishing full coverage of Europe by 2018. A final stage is planned for 2022 that would also provide coverage of the United States from Europe.

The Obama administration has touted the progress as sign of alliance solidarity. But it is mainly paid for and operated by the United States. In Chicago, the administration turned over operational control of parts of the system to NATO. The administration said that other NATO allies committed over $1 billion to support infrastructure for the system.

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