US team inspects Russian radar

Moscow has offered to share station as an alternative to anti-missile defence sites.

    The US would use the base as part of its anti-missile defence system [GALLO/GETTY]
    The general, who is deputy director of the US Missile Defence Agency, said: "We are evaluating how that would fit in with a mutually beneficial cooperative way ahead."
     
    Upgrade proposed
     
    Major-General Alexander Yakushin, the deputy head of Russia's space forces, said Russian experts were convinced by the meeting that the US is interested in co-operating.
     
    "We showed the basic characteristics, parameters and prospects of this facility," he said.
     
    Yakushin said Russian experts had explained how the Soviet-era radar could be upgraded to work with US missile defence systems.
     
    "We showed the perspectives for the radar's development and  modernisation if there is a political decision to co-operate," he said.
     
    Moscow has offered to share Gabala station with the US instead of it using bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. 

    Relations between Moscow and Washington have been tense due to the proposed missile defence system plans, with the Kremlin threatening to re-deploy nuclear missiles if the US decides to go ahead with the project.

    'No negotiations' 

    Russian officials have also said that three-way consultations would be held between Azerbaijani, Russian and US experts in Baku.

    But US officials said the visit was only technical and that no negotiations would be held.

    Azerbaijan is located north of Iran and Russia says the station would be more practical in thwarting potential Iranian missile attacks than sites in Europe.

    The Gabala station is set in the mountains of northern Azerbaijan, and was put into operation in 1984 as one of the most powerful radars in the Soviet Union's missile-attack early-warning system.

    Gabala feeds information to installations in Moscow and has a range of 6,000km, capable of monitoring the Middle East, Asia and parts of Africa.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Azerbaijani government agreed to lease the station to Russia until 2012.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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