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21 Jun, 2007 12:04

U.S. urged to hold off on missile plan

A senior Russian official has again stressed that an Azerbaijan radar is a viable alternative to the U.S. deployment of missile elements in Europe. Russian officials say the station has all the technical capabilities needed for the project.

Speaking on Thursday, the Russian Chief of Staff, Yury Baluevsky, said the U.S. should put its defence shield plans on hold, until a compromise can be reached.

Speaking of young NATO members, namely Poland and the Czech Republic, they have their own interests. They don't feel positive about the decisions of NATO, which they are members of, or the EU. Moreover, the Polish political authorities are especially worried about the suggestion of Vladimir Putin. They are not worried about any real threat of Iran, they are worried about a threat from Russia. So it's urgently necessary for them to deploy the anti-missile elements in Poland,” believes Mr Baluevsky.

“There is still some time to discuss the Russian suggestion before the U.S. starts deploying its bases – that's what we hear from the U.S. First of all, judging from the comments of the United States, Washington believes Russia has finally realised the threat coming from Iran. That's why it put forward the idea of the joint use of the radar station in Azerbaijan. As a military man, I say it is not true: we have never denied the existing trend of weapon proliferation in the world but we have always stated that this trend is not a catastrophe that requires urgent anti-missile system deployment, especially near the borders of the Russian Federation,” he said.

Yury Baluevsky added the alternative Gabala station is Azerbaijan has all necessary and modern equipment:

“A threat from Iran is hypothetical now and in the near future. Our colleagues from the U.S. often say that the Gabala station is not a radar station and its abilities do not allow targeting missiles. Some so-called experts say the station is out-of-date. I can say they are far from true. Besides, in the nearest future foreign media will be able to come and see the station for themselves”.

The American plans for a missile defence shield in Europe have been the subject of heated discussions between the countries involved. The U.S. is planning to install elements of the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. At the recent G8 meeting in Germany, Russia unexpectedly proposed an alternative with the shared use of a radar station in Azerbaijan.

The U.S. welcomed the news as positive, but said it could only be considered as an addition to its plans, not an alternative.

Russia argues that if there is a tangible threat from so-called rogue states, then other means to tackle the problem are available to the United States without reverting to missile defence.