Azerbaijan, Baku, September 22 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva /
It is too early to speak about U.S. and Russia's joint use of Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, Director of the British Transatlantic and Caucasus Studies Institute Ziba Norman said.
"It is no secret that the U.S. has long envied Russia's position in Gabala in Azerbaijan, though it is too soon to say whether this might become a site for U.S. missile defense system in the South Caucasus," Norman told Trend .
Within the new architecture of American missile defense system in Europe, the Pentagon plans to deploy radar for early warning of missile launches in the Caucasus instead of the Czech Republic, Marine Corps General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Friday, ITAR-TASS reported.
Cartwright attended a press conference held by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to explain President Barack Obama's decision to scrap plans for anti-missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, namely Poland and the Czech Republic, Norman said by e-mail.
According to the General, the new architecture still envisages deployment of early warning radar, which operates in the centimeter range. "And most likely it will be done in the Caucasus," said Cartwright, without specifying where.
According to Norman, President Obama's decision to scrap plans for anti-missile defence systems in Eastern Europe does represent a change in US policy. Public opinion in Poland and the Czech Republic was very divided about the benefits of such a system, whilst the Russian view that these systems had the potential to be more than defensive and potentially posed a threat to their own security, was a major factor in the deterioration of relations between the US and Russia, Norman said.
According to Norman, it is not clear yet whether this change will translate into greater cooperation with the West and the US especially in respect of that most thorny of geopolitical problems: Iran.
"Whilst one system is being scrapped by the USA, another is being developed in its place, one which is meant to be more flexible and better suited to the threat posed by Iran," the expert said.
"This system, housed on US naval destroyers placed in the North Sea and in the Eastern Mediterranean, would operate to protect Europe, Norman said. But there are plans for more land based systems as well in Turkey and Israel, which would augment this capability. And sites in the Balkans are being considered as well."
According to Norman, Obama plans to develop SM-3 missile interceptors instead, which target short and medium range missiles (the real threat posed by Iran at present and in the foreseeable future).
"This decision has removed one point of friction between the US and Russia. It remains to be seen whether Russia will now genuinely assist in reining in Iranian nuclear ambitions, the expert said. And Russian cooperation is essential if the Iranian threat is to be countered without the use of force."
"This may be one of the last opportunities left for Russia and the West to draw together to stop further destabilisation in the Middle East," Norman said.
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