Iran's Foreign Ministry claims Putin won't follow through with offer to allow use of radar station in neighboring Azerbaijan.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFFPublished: JUNE 17, 2007 15:19Advertisement
Iran said Sunday it had received indications from Russia's president that he would not follow through with an offer to allow the US to use a radar station in neighboring Azerbaijan for missile defense against Teheran.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed Washington use a radar station in northeast Azerbaijan rented by Moscow to counter a potential threat from Iran, a surprise counteroffer to US plans to install a missile defense shield in eastern Europe to protect NATO allies against a missile launch by Teheran.
But Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday that Russia officials had indicated to Teheran that Putin would not allow the plan to go through.
"It seems Russia does not plan to make decisions that may cause instability and insecurity in the region, where it (Russia) is located" said Hosseini. Azerbaijan shares borders with both Russia to the north and Iran to the south.
Russia has not publicly altered its offer for the US to use the Gabala radar station and had no immediate comment Sunday on Iran's claim.
Hosseini said Iran had summoned the Russian and Azerbaijani ambassadors to Teheran to discuss Putin's proposal. He said Iranian ambassadors in Moscow and Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, had also discussed the issue with their host countries.
The US made the formal request in January to place a radar base in a military area southwest of Prague, Czech Republic, and 10 interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland as part of plans for a missile defense shield.
But US plans have brought a strong reaction from both Iran and Russia, which accuses the US of threatening Russian territory and of trying to start a new arms race.
Washington has insisted that deployment is not about Russia but about the potential threat from Iran or North Korea.
Iran has rejected any possible threat to the West by its missile program, going so far as to call US plans for a missile defense shield a "joke" because Teheran's missiles do not have the capability to reach Europe.
Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile called the Shahab-3 that has a range of at least 1,300 kilometers, capable of striking Israel. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 2,000 kilometers. With this range, Teheran could strike Eastern Europe, but Western Europe would be out of reach.
Although Western experts believe Iran is developing the Shahab-4 missile, thought to have a range between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers, Iran has not confirmed such reports.
Iran initially acknowledged in 1999 it was developing the Shahab-4, but claimed it would be used only as a space launch vehicle for commercial satellites.
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