Russia wants to keep using Soviet anti-missile radar in Azerbaijan

Russia wants to keep using Soviet anti-missile radar in Azerbaijan

13 Mar, 02:23 PM

Russia plans to continue using a Soviet-built military radar located in Azerbaijan after the current lease agreement ends, and has invited the US to use the facility as well, Russia’s Foreign Minister said Thursday.

Sergey Lavrov said on a trip to Azerbaijan that Russia would like to continue using the early-warning radar in Gabala after the lease expires in 2012, AP reports.

He said Russia's proposal to the US to jointly use the facility to monitor missile threats remains on the table. Moscow made the proposal in 2007 as an alternative to the US plans to locate missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, a plan Russia has fiercely opposed.

The administration of former president George W. Bush said the Gabala facility was too old to defend against a threat from IranWashington's main argument for building the European system. US officials said that, even if they were to use the Russian radar, it would not replace the planned US missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The missile defense dispute strained Russia-US ties, and Barack Obama's election raised hopes in Moscow that he would scrap the shield.

Obama has not said how he intends to proceed, but he has stressed the system must be cost-effective and proven, and that it should not divert resources from other national security priorities. He also said he has told Russia that curbing Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons would lessen the need for a US missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The Gabala facility was built to track US bombers and submarine-launched missiles from the Indian Ocean to the south. Some analysts say the radar has poor resolution data and will be near the end of its useful life when the current lease ends.

Lavrov's Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, said Thursday that the extension of the lease agreement isn't on the agenda yet.

The Russian military last month commissioned a new early-warning radar intended to monitor potential missile threats on Russia's southern flank.

Tags: weapons, Azerbaijan, Sergey Lavrov, US, Barack Obama

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