Interview with Pyotr Belov
Mr Belov believes the implementation of President Putin's proposal could have different results for Russia and the United States. “Both countries are now entering a pre-election phase. That is why, I think, at the beginning, some positive, reassuring statements for accepting Putin's proposal will be made. Then it's very probable that the military – and they are more responsible for ensuring national interests – will explain that this decision is not in the U.S. interests but is more beneficial for Russia. So the process could drag on. Most likely, the United States will carry on with its plans to place a radar in the Czech Republic,” the expert said.
Pyotr Belov thinks Iran’s reaction to the U.S.-Russian dialogue may be more radical towards the U.S. rather than towards Russia. “I think that U.S. suspicion that Iran poses a potential threat is far-fetched, I don't think that Tehran could gain the capabilities needed within the next five years. I think Iran's possible reaction to the Moscow-Washington dialogue on anti-missile defence could be reservedly reproaching towards Russia, and more radical towards the United States,” he noted.
The expert thinks the Gabala plan is more convenient for Europe. “If the United States agrees to Putin's plan to jointly use the radar in Azerbaijan, it will lose an opportunity to control possible launches of Russian missiles and waste time. In this case the placement of anti-missile defence system elements in Poland would make no sense. As for Europe, the Gabala plan would provide better safety,” Mr Belov stressed.
Earlier, Pyotr Belov joined Russia Today to comment on the possible common use of radar station in Azerbaijan by Russia and the U.S.
Russia Today: What are the potential benefits of this site?
Pyotr Belov: You know, this decision has both weak and strong points. I begin with the advantages. As for the U.S.they will restore trust and confidence which was undermined in the eyes of Russia, because of rather unconvincing arguments for deploying radar station and interceptor missiles in Poland and Czech Republic. Furthermore, the U.S. will restore their reputation in the eyes of their allies which reproached the U.S. for protecting itself only with its global ABM system being deployed. Moreover, the U.S. could now have more time to reply because the radar station in Azerbaijan is situated several times closer to the possible launch sites therefore there will be more time to receive confirmations from other same purpose radar stations in Thule and Northern Britain. As far as Russia is concerned, it will also obtain certain benefits, first of all getting rid of the threat to expose possible launches of missile in the European part of Russia because if radar station is deployed in Czech Republic it could register Russian missiles launches and possible enemy would have more time to intercept them. This threat is very real, because it seems that the arguments President Putin has presented to President Bush showed that the capabilities of the planned anti-missile shield in Europe will enable to partly intercept Russian missiles. Therefore if Russia does not keep its promise made 10 days ago, I mean developing of a new ballistic missile RS-24, it will greatly violate strategic stability and the situation on international stage.
RT: This proposal has been welcomed by the U.S. cautiously, but there are potential problems in it. What are some of the potential problems?
P.B.: I believe that it is too early to consider this proposal as accepted. The matter is that this decision brings some problems as well for both parties. I suppose that in the U.S. facing presidential elections this decision wii not be accepted by those Republican voters who are closely related to the military industry because using of the Russian radar will automatically exclude modernization of the radar station being shifted to Czech Republic. This reason imply resistance to accepting the Russia's proposal and prevent for making positive decision during the pre-election period in the U.S. As for Russia, from the geopolitical point of view participating in the project of creating anti-missile defence system against possible nuclear attack from a Moslem country may complicate our relations with the Moslem world altogether. To my opinion this is a very serious obstacle for us. On the other hand, common use of our radar stations could undermine the effectiveness of making decisions based on the information provided by our early warning radar stations. As you understand mistakes are still possible even though the decisions to be made are crucial. There are two types of the mistakes in our case. The first one is to fail to notice a real missile launch which is bad. The second one is to give a false alarm which is even worse because it would provoke a war. This part is particularly dangerous because absolutely trustworthy partnership between two superpowers is not possible because of the nature of their interests which are mostly different. So this danger does exist. Surely taking such serious decisions both parties will consider not only the information from the early warning radar stations but from other sources as well. For example, space based early warning missile launch system being created in the U.S. which would register launches in infrared spectrum. There is intelligence information as the last option. Combination of these three sources of information could help to make right decisions.
Earlier, Pyotr Belov joined Russia Today to share his view on the recent Russian intercontinental ballistic missile test.
Russia Today: Tell us a little about this missile, please.
Pyotr Belov: A very important event has happened today. The thing is that concerning their anti-ballistic missile systems, the U.S. have presumed for the last 15 years that Russia would not be able to resume the production, and that by 2015 it will have just about 200 missiles, no more. That is why they decided that their ABM system could intercept and protect the national territory of the U.S. And if there were some who thought the country will not be able to do this, now it has been factually proved it is not true. Russia has shown it is really able to substitute the previous generation missiles that have been and are still the basis of Russia’s strategic forces by this new kind of missile. This kind of missiles can be simultaneously and massively launched, but this answering back to the possibilities of a national ABM.
RT: Russia has successfully tested these missiles. Is it possible that the United States might deploy more than just ten interceptors and a radar in Europe?
P.B.: These ten interceptors were meant only to be on the safe side and were designed to strike back on some of Russia’ missile systems deployed in Europe, but as for the capabilities of the new missiles, simultaneous launch will make up to 30 interceptors ineffective. So, it is very likely that the U.S. will have to abandon their plans because there will be no guarantee that they will intercept all of the blocks of missiles, so they will have to look for some other ways. This is the major point concerning today’s event.
RT: Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov called the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty ineffective and said that Russia may withdraw from it, that is why it is looking for ways of modernising its weapons. What should the West do to avert this?
P.B.: What has been done is a proper step because the U.S. plans to deploy the ABM system in Europe poses a threat, especially it would be true in the case Russia had very few ABMs. If Russia has more of them and they can be launched simultaneously and massively, this might hamper all the decisions and attempts to intercept ABMs in all the three phases, namely missiles on the national territory, where there are 14 of them in California and Alaska, at the intermediate stage, I mean the sea-based missiles, and at the initial stage. Those on the initial stage were in a way posing a threat to some of Russia’s missiles in the European part. A radar in the Czech Republic would be able to register the fact of the launching of Russia’s missiles, get information about the trajectory and get time to prepare missiles to oppose that limited number of blocks Russia had before. But if there are many of them it would be different. This decision is a proper one, and I suppose, any attempts from the other side to raise the number of anti-missiles would be ineffective.