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Global missile defense system could be created by 2020 - Ivanov

RIA Novosti

08/07/2007 14:45 PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY (Far East), July 8 (RIA Novosti) - A global missile defense system proposed by Russia could be created by 2020, a Russian first deputy prime minister said Sunday.

"We are proposing to create a single missile defense system for all participants with equal access to the system's control," Sergei Ivanov said in a televised interview with the Vesti Nedeli program on Rossiya television channel.

Ivanov said the proposal applied both to the United States and European countries, including neutral states like Austria, Finland and Sweden.

According to Ivanov, the proposal involved efforts to create missile defense data exchange centers in Moscow and Brussels where the headquarters of NATO and the European Union are located.

Ivanov also mentioned the recent initiative by President Vladimir Putin that Russia and the United States could use the early warning facility in Gabala in Azerbaijan, if the U.S. gave up its plans to deploy elements of its European missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"In addition, Russia is ready in the future to offer its new radar being built in the Krasnodar Territory [in southern Russia] for a joint data system," Ivanov said.

U.S. plans to place elements of its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic have become one of the main issues of contention in relations between Russia and the United States, bringing them recently to their lowest point since the Cold War.

In an initial response to the U.S. move, Moscow threatened to point Russian warheads at Europe and pull out of a conventional arms reduction treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), but seemingly softened its stance when Putin proposed at a Group of Eight leading industrialized nations summit in Germany to jointly use the Gabala radar in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

The Gabala radar, located near the town of Minchegaur, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital Baku, was leased to Russia for 10 years in 2002.

The radar has been operational since early 1985. With a range of 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles), it is the most powerful in the region and can detect any missile launches in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

During his informal talks with George W. Bush Monday, the Russian president proposed that the United States jointly use a radar being built in southern Russia, in addition to the missile early warning facility in Gabala.



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