Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.S. Officials Expected in Azerbaijan This Week
Ten U.S. officials tomorrow are expected to visit the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan that Russia has proposed as an alternative to missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, Reuters reported (see GSN, Sept. 14).
Moscow has denounced the U.S. plan as a threat to its national security and has played down the Iranian missile threat that the installations would be intended to counter. It has promoted joint operations with the United States of early warning radars in Azerbaijan and southern Russia as a replacement for the U.S. program.
"Our chief goal is to prevent the deployment of a third antimissile defense region in Eastern Europe, in Poland and the Czech Republic," said Maj. Gen. Alexander Yakushin, first deputy chief of the Russian Space Forces.
"Our main goal (at Gabala) is to adequately respond to those threats that actually exist from a southern direction, and not some future hypothetical threats in 2025," he added.
The visiting officials are expected to come from the Defense and State departments, along with the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan. Russian and Azeri officials are also expected at the inspection, Reuters reported.
The Gabala radar has a range of 3,750 miles, enabling it to monitor the Middle East, Indian Ocean and much of North Africa. Russia rents the facility at an annual cost of $7 million (Chris Baldwin, Reuters/Yahoo!News, Sept. 15).
"The radar is Russia's eyes and ears in the Middle East," Glen Howard, president of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation national security policy institute, told the Associated Press.
Washington sees the radar only as a possible complement to its plans for a radar base in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland. The radar could provide earlier detection of missiles than the proposed Czech installation, which would be intended to track missiles that had already been identified, according to AP
"What the Gabala radar would help you do is acquire targets," said physicist Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Desmond Butler, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, Sept. 16).
This article provides an overview of Azerbaijan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.