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Russian Foreign Ministery spokesperson Anatoly Antonov on Missile Defence, June 9, 2007

Replies by Anatoly Antonov, Director of the Russian MFA Department of Security and Disarmament, to Questions from Russian News Agencies on Missile Defense-Related Problems, June 8, 2007

Question: How could you comment on the agreement the Russian and US presidents reached at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm yesterday to cooperate on missile-defense systems?

Anatoly Antonov: Despite the acuteness of missile defense problems, the talks between Vladimir Putin and George Bush were held in a constructive atmosphere. It is important that Russia and the United States agreed to continue their dialogue on a question that affects the national interests of our states. We have a considerable potential for interaction with the US that helps solve problems arising in the field of strategic stability.

The constructive idea of President Putin, if implemented, will enable getting the situation out of the dead-end and outlining ways of further cooperation with the US in searching for answers to new missile threats.

We are satisfied with the first keen reaction of the American side to the Russian proposals. It is important that the US is ready to consider our concerns over the establishment of an American MD base in Europe. Hopefully we will soon begin an expert dialogue with the US colleagues with the prospect of arriving at concrete proposals toward the upcoming Russian-American summit at the start of July. We also expect other concerned countries to be able to join this work. After all, this question concerns common security.

Question: One conclusion drawn by international observers is that Russia has acknowledged the reality of missile threats from Iran, which in the long run will only increase. That's why Moscow has supposedly agreed to provide information on Gabala Radar Station in Azerbaijan. Do such assertions correspond to reality?

Anatoly Antonov: Our assessments of global missile threats have not changed. The problem does exist, and we are ready to discuss it in a bilateral and a multilateral format. Incidentally, we already have some definite work experience within the UN, in the Russia-NATO Council and then also in other multilateral forums. Our suggestions to the United States and other countries that it is necessary to study this problem jointly are well known. Only after concrete answers are obtained to questions about the nature and trends of missile proliferation should it be decided whether and what military-technical means are needed to repulse this threat.

As before, we believe that Iran has no capability to threaten Europe with any ballistic missiles either now or in the next 15-20 years. We have already presented our estimates more than once.

We are convinced that deploying a missile defense system not corresponding to the real degree of threats may only provoke missile proliferation.

As to the work of the radar station at Gabala, we consider that joint analysis of data from this station will make it possible to get real-time information on the situation in the region. This is useful for a substantive and professional discussion of how serious the assertions about "missile threats from the South" are.

Question: Will cooperation with the US in the field of missile defense not influence Russian relations with the states of the Middle East and South Asia whose territories are covered by this radar?

Anatoly Antonov: Gabala Radar Station, built way back by the Soviet Union, now leased by Russia from Azerbaijan and constituting an element of the missile attack warning system, have worried nobody for many decades. It is a system of "passive" surveillance not having, as distinct from the proposed US missile-defense base in Europe, any anti-missile element. The United States and other countries also have such radar stations. Therefore we see no reason why our relations with the Asian partners could change for the worse.

The purpose of Gabala and its technical capabilities remain as they were.

We can use this radar station in automatic mode. Working jointly on this basis, the whole of Europe can be covered without exclusion. This establishes conditions for cooperation in a collective format, without unilateral ill-considered steps to deploy elements of a US global missile-defense system in Europe. Gabala Radar Station is a kind of "insurance policy" in case the strategic situation changes in the region in question.

And the last point. We feel that deploying a missile defense system is the last resort in countering a missile threat when all the alternative measures have been exhausted. But we think that the international community has not yet used all politico-diplomatic tools to prevent missile proliferation in the world. We intend jointly with the partners to step up the work on strengthening the current multilateral mechanisms of missile nonproliferation.

Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.