Brussels: Spain and the US on Wednesday signed an agreement at NATO headquarters here that will allow the deployment of an anti-missile shield at Spain`s Rota naval base.
"This accord is important for NATO and very important for Spain," said Spanish Defence Minister Pedro Morenes, who signed the pact with his US counterpart Leon Panetta at the close of the NATO ministerial meeting devoted, among other things, to Afghanistan.
Morenes said, at a press conference, that the signing of the agreement gives Spain "important international credibility", and he emphasized that the country is thus contributing to NATO security.
"Here an important procedure is established against complex situations of massive arms proliferation ... in different political-geographic environments," the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon chief expressed his gratitude to Spain and to Morenes for their willingness to host US Navy vessels at Rota.
The Spanish Cabinet authorized the signing of the pact last week, a year after Spain announced it would take part in the project.
It was then-prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who offered Spain`s participation during a meeting in Brussels in October 2011.
The deployment of the missile-defence system requiring modification to Spain`s existing defence agreement with the US.
The adjustments will facilitate the arrival at the Mediterranean base of Rota starting in 2013 of some 1,200 US military personnel and about 1,400 of their family members.
The United States will handle all the expenses of the construction work needed to adapt the Rota base to the new situation, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said last Friday.
In that regard, Morenes said that the United States will invest 2 million euros (USD 2.58 million) to outfit the Rota docks to attend to the needs of the navy vessels.
The accord, the minister added, "has benefits for Spain besides those of security", a reference to the economic activity that the presence of the US Navy vessels and personnel will bring.
Besides Spain, countries such as Poland, Romania, The Netherlands and Turkey will host installations and components of the NATO anti-missile system.