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Russia's Lavrov says missile-defense proposals still in force

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's missile-defense proposals, including the joint use of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan, are still on the table, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

"After the Barack Obama administration... developed a new missile defense line, new possibilities appeared to return to our initial idea, which stipulated a joint analysis of missile risks," he told a news conference.

Moscow offered the use of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan and the Armavir radar station in Russia's Krasnodar Territory as alternatives to now-scrapped U.S. plans for a missile shield in Central Europe, but Washington had said they could be used as "supplements," if at all.

The chief of the U.S. missile defense agency said the radar site in Azerbaijan is too close to Iran to serve as an adequate replacement for the proposed facility in the Czech Republic.

The radar's surveillance covers Iran, Turkey, India, Iraq and the entire Middle East. It allows not only detection of the launch of a missile, but also to track the whole of its trajectory so as to enable a ballistic missile defense system to intercept an offensive strike. The radar station hosts about 1000 Russian servicemen.

"The first step will be a joint task to reveal the regions which could pose such risks and threats, and later, on the next stages, we will jointly... consider military and technical means to attentively monitor these threats and counter them by political, diplomatic, economic or other means, if needed," Lavrov said, adding he hoped other states would also join U.S. and Russia's missile-defense efforts.

The Gabala radar station, located in northern Azerbaijan, had been a major Soviet Union missile defense facility. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued operating the station.

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