Russia on Friday said it hopes to augment the Gabala radar installation in Azerbaijan in response to Iran's growing ability to hit distant targets with its missiles, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported (see GSN, Sept. 15, 2010).
"We need this station and we want to modernize it," Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in remarks reported by Interfax. "In no small part we want to do this so we can watch the Iranian (missile) program" (Deutsche Presse-Agentur/Monsters and Critics, Nov. 18).
The minister said Moscow wanted to make the site "utterly different, having other parameters," ITAR-Tass reported.
"We have a clear idea of how we want to modernize it," he added. "It is very much likely to be a radar station of the so-called module type, or a station assembled on site from prefabricated units."
"I don't think our Azerbaijani partners have any objections. The question is in money," Serdyukov said. "They want to dramatically raise the rent. We would like to have it as it is but considerably reduce the territory we are leasing. We do not need such vast territories and so many engineering networks for a station of the new type. We will not consume so much water and electricity" (ITAR-Tass, Nov. 18).
Moscow presently gives $14 million to Azerbaijan each year for use of the facility, according to DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur).
Serdyukov and his Azerbaijani equivalent, Safar Abiyev, addressed the radar facility in talks on Thursday, ITAR-Tass reported. Serdyukov spokeswoman Irina Kovalchyuk said the governments plan to lay the groundwork for Russia's continued use of the site through 2025.
Serdyukov said Russian specialists would travel to the Azerbaijani capital in the near future for further negotiations on the matter. "I have no doubts we would succeed," he said (ITAR-Tass).