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Gabala radar can detect cruise missiles, ICBMs - Ivanov

RIA Novosti

08/06/2007 16:27

UST-LUGA (Leningrad Region), June 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's first deputy prime minister said the Gabala radar, leased by Russia in Azerbaijan, is capable of detecting both cruise and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Russia has offered the United States joint use of the radar in an attempt to ease tensions sparked by Washington's missile defense plans in Central Europe.

"It technologically makes it possible to monitor launches of both ICBMs and cruise missiles with a wide field of view to the south of our borders," Sergei Ivanov, a former defense minister, said, adding that he had visited the radar on more than one occasion.

Ivanov said the Russian proposal testifies to Russia's readiness to resolve security issues with Washington and Europe constructively. "The proposal is a good basis on which to fight modern challenges and threats," he said.

The first deputy premier said "apocalyptical and alarmist" forecasts had been made in the press about Russian-U.S. security cooperation before the Group of Eight summit currently taking place in Heiligendamm, Germany. But he said Russia's proposal refutes these suggestions.

"We are ready for constructive cooperation, taking into account the security interests of our partners, our interests, and everybody else's interests," he said.

A NATO source said earlier in the day that President Vladimir Putin's proposal on the joint use of the radar, made at bilateral talks Thursday with U.S. President George W. Bush, will be discussed by the Russia-NATO Council on June 14.

At a news conference after the leaders' talks on Germany's Baltic coast, Bush gave no specific response to the proposals, but White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley who was also present at the meeting called the offer "interesting", and said: "let's let our experts have a look at it."

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed the presidents' talks, but said it is too early to assess the Russian proposal.

Meanwhile, senior government officials in Azerbaijan said the South Caucasus country was ready to discuss the possible joint use of the Gabala radar.

Azerbaijan borders on the Caspian Sea, and also on Iran, one of the "rogue states" that the Pentagon's planned missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic is allegedly directed against.

The U.S. national missile defense system currently deploys missile interceptors at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and at Vandenberg, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. The U.S. also has an anti-missile radar in the U.K., at Fylingdales in North Yorkshire.

The meeting between Bush and Putin was their first since the Pentagon announced plans in January to set up a radar in the Czech republic and an interceptor missile base in Poland. Russia condemned the plans, calling them a threat to national security, and warned that the bases in Central Europe could become targets of Russian pinpoint strikes.

Russia last week tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and a new cruise missile, saying the tests were part of Moscow's response to U.S. anti-missile plans.

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