Baku wants Moscow to pay more for radar
Azerbaijan wants Moscow to pay more for the use of a radar station that is part of Russia's warning system against attacks from beyond its southern frontiers, Reuters quotes senior Azeri official as saying.
Russia operates the Qabala radar station under a 10-year agreement with the ex-Soviet republic, which stands on the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran. It expires in August 2012.
"The Russians want us to extend the lease. We are ready to consider cooperation but the conditions should be reviewed," Azeri Deputy Foreign MinisterAraz Azimov said in an interview.
When asked what exactly should be changed in the agreement, Azimov said: "They should pay more." Russia is now paying $10 million per year.
"The risk is bigger, the issue is more prominent and the importance of Qabala has increased," Azimov said.
He did not say how much Azerbaijan wants Russia to pay or explain the risk, but Western nations are concerned about what they call a growing threat of a missile attack by Iran.
"Looking at similar situations in which the Russian Federation pays the rent, they pay much more than they pay to Azerbaijan," Azimov said.
The Qabala facility is part of a ring of early warning radar stations built during the Cold War. Some are in ex-Soviet republics, forcing Moscow to seek agreements on their use or abandon them, and to begin building new radars inside Russia.
In 2007 Russia offered to the United States joint use of the Qabala station as an alternative to the Bush administration's planned European missile shield, aimed largely to protect against a potential threat from Iran.
The United States rejected the proposal, saying the Qabala radar would not be useful.
President Barack Obama has scaled back the planned U.S. missile shield and NATO and Russia agreed last November to cooperate on missile defence, but they have so far failed to agree a common approach.