BAKU – Joint use of the radar station in Azerbaijan by the United States and Russia is not on the agenda, the US Ambassador in Baku Matthew Bryza said Friday.
In 2007 Moscow offered to Washington joint use of the Gabala radar as an alternative to the planned US missile shield in Europe, aimed largely to protect against a potential threat from Iran. The U.S. rejected the proposal.
“US defense policy is clear,” Bryza said. “We and our NATO counterparts consider more useful the use of independent defense systems of this type. So, Russia and NATO should have separate [missile defense] systems, and it would be good if these two systems cooperated with each other,” the ambassador said.
He added that it was yet unknown how such cooperation could be carried out.
“The main reason is that this defense system is still developing. We are aware that the Gabala radar station is located in Azerbaijan and used by Russia. Certainly, if we are talking about a defense system, it is necessary to hold discussions with all sides involved,” Bryza said.
The Gabala radar station, located in northwestern Azerbaijan, was built during the Soviet times as one of the key elements of the USSR’s missile defense system. Russia leases the radar station under a 10-year agreement with the neighboring country, which expires in August 2012.
The Gabala facility allows to track territory spanning 6,000 km, including Iran, Turkey, India, the Middle East, as well as the Indian Ocean and a part of the Australian continent. The early warning equipment would immediately track mid-range missiles with nuclear warheads potentially launched from these territories.