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ABM And The Geostrategic Interests Of Azerbaijan

It is wrong to think that Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal might stop the deployment of an American defense shield in its tracks. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already said that despite Russia's proposal to jointly use the radar in Azerbaijan, Washington will continue its negotiations on building missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland. It follows then that Azerbaijan's national security strategy cannot be formulated without taking into account world processes. The traditional geographic concepts of security in a rapidly globalizing world are increasingly losing their relevance.
by Rauf Radzhabov
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jul 09, 2007
The proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to use jointly with the United States the Gabala radar site, leased by Russia from Azerbaijan, as an element of a missile defense shield is well worth examining through the lens of Azerbaijan's geostrategic interests. How compatible is Putin's initiative with Azerbaijan's national security strategy in the short, medium and long terms?

In line with the agreement between Azerbaijan and Russia, Moscow has repeated that the Gabala radar's activities will not infringe on Azerbaijan's sovereignty, interests or security. Also, Russia has no right, without Azerbaijan's consent, to conclude agreements on the facility with a third party. The Azeri side, for its part, has pledged not to hand over the site to third countries during its period of lease.

Moscow's Gabala initiative poses certain risks to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Iran have signed a mutual agreement not to allow their territory to be used by third countries for hostile actions. It is common knowledge that the aim of an American missile defense system in Europe is to put paid to the Iranian nuclear program. As opposed to the United States, Moscow sees no threat coming from Iran, and this is the basic difference in their approaches to a missile defense shield and joint running of the Gabala radar. Moscow and Tehran are partners and allies.

Converting the Gabala station into an element of an American shield may be viewed by Tehran as a violation on the part of Baku of their previous agreement and as a direct threat to Iran's security. While Iranian missiles will be unable to reach Europe in the foreseeable future, Azerbaijan is within their direct reach. Their low accuracy allows them to be used only against area targets, for example, large cities. The missiles with a range of 1,200 miles and more that Iran now possesses or is developing lack any strategic military value unless they are fitted out with nuclear warheads.

It should be remembered that Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense, made a proposal this spring to deploy elements of a missile system in Europe and the Caucasus. The Bush administration and the Pentagon did not initially rule out locating military facilities in Azerbaijan or Georgia. In the opinion of American military experts, Azerbaijan has a major advantage over Georgia: It has the Gabala radar.

An American missile defense setup is already being deployed both in the United States and Europe. A missile shield is in place in the United States, and work has been completed on a radar station in Britain. These facilities offer early opportunities for protecting America and Western European countries against threats from Iran and North Korea. This project will be finished in 2009, when the radar in Britain will be put in service. A missile umbrella over Eastern European countries requires the placement of elements of a missile defense system in Poland -- 10 interceptors -- and the Czech Republic, an observation radar. Deployment of separate elements of a U.S. missile defense system in Europe and perhaps in one of the South Caucasian countries should be viewed as NATO enlargement to the east.

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NATO plans to expand
Moscow (UPI) Jul 06, 2007 It is wrong to think that Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal might stop the deployment of an American defense shield in its tracks. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already said that despite Russia's proposal to jointly use the radar in Azerbaijan, Washington will continue its negotiations on building missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland. It follows then that Azerbaijan's national security strategy cannot be formulated without taking into account world processes. The traditional geographic concepts of security in a rapidly globalizing world are increasingly losing their relevance.

One aspect of NATO expansion remains open: should it recognize Russia's role as a "buffer zone" between the European Union, China and the Islamic world as NATO goes on enlarging? Or should it allow Russia to join? For NATO, the prospect of Russia as a "buffer" is more acceptable than its integration into NATO. Russia as a buffer requires no spending nor poses any threats.

One may look at NATO from many angles, but one thing about it is beyond doubt: The North Atlantic alliance is set to move farther towards Central and Southeast Asia, i.e., NATO's strategic advance is global. In other words, missile defense facilities will also spread in depth. Against the background of NATO expansion and the deployment of elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia is trying to put the finishing touches on its Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance comprised of former Soviet republics, and its military bases in Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Belarus has deployed Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems, as well as new shorter-range Iskander missiles. If upgraded Iskanders and S-400 systems are located in the Kaliningrad Region, then practically all of Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltics will be within Russia's reach. Incidentally, S-400 surface-to-air missiles will go on operational status in the Moscow Region this summer.

It is anybody's guess how well the Gabala initiative will fit in with an American missile defense system. If a threat arises from Iran, the Gabala radar will be exposed. Baku provides air cover for the facility, but, unfortunately, Azerbaijan does not yet have the latest air-defense systems. However, the technology exists to cover the Middle East without being close to its borders.

Meanwhile, the Gabala radar is too far from the Czech Republic and Poland, where the United States plans to station its interceptor missiles, although the Russian president said that the Pentagon would do well to consider the possibility of deploying the missiles in Turkey, which is a NATO member, in Iraq, or even on offshore platforms. But that is bound to lead to a wider theater of operations and prompt all countries in the region to join the arms race. In that case, finding a solution to the Kosovo, Arab-Israeli, Iraqi, Lebanese, Karabakh and Afghan conflicts would be out of the question.

It is in Azerbaijan's interests to operate the Gabala radar, which is the property of the republic, on its own after 2012. Currently, Azerbaijan is engaged in drawing up its military doctrine and re-equipping its army to meet NATO standards. The Gabala factor may prove quite useful in the context of these reforms.

(Rauf Radzhabov is a military expert from Azerbaijan. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

Source: RIA Novosti

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Japan Makes Missile Defence Shield Priority
Tokyo (AFP) Jul 07, 2007
Japan said Friday it aims to erect a missile defence shield as quickly as possible as North Korea develops increasingly sophisticated weaponry, including long-range rockets. Japan's annual defence report warned that North Korea is improving its missile system to cover all east Asia, including Japan, and potentially reach the northern tip of Australia as well as part of Alaska. The report, approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet, was the first published by the defence ministry, which was upgraded from agency status in January in line with Abe's initiative to expand the role of Japanese troops.







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