Global missile defence system by 2020: Ivanov

By RIA Novosti

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky : A global missile defence system proposed by Russia could be created by 2020, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said here Sunday.

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"We are proposing to create a single missile defence system for all participants with equal access to the system's control," Ivanov said in a televised interview on Rossiya television channel.

Ivanov said the proposal applied both to the US and Europe, including neutral states like Austria, Finland and Sweden. According to Ivanov, it involved efforts to create missile defence data exchange centres in Moscow and Brussels where the headquarters of NATO and the European Union are located.

Ivanov also mentioned the recent initiative by Russian President Vladimir Putin for joint use by Russia and the US of the early warning facility in Gabala in Azerbaijan, if the US gave up plans to deploy its European missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"In addition, Russia is ready in the future to offer its new radar being built in the Krasnodar Territory (in southern Russia) for a joint data system," Ivanov said.

The proposed US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic have become one of the main issues of contention in relations between Russia and the US, bringing them recently to their lowest point since the Cold War.

In an initial response to the US move, Moscow threatened to point Russian warheads at Europe and pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). It later seemingly softened its stance when Putin proposed at a Group of Eight summit in Germany to jointly use the Gabala radar in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

The Gabala radar, located near the town of Minchegaur, 120 kilometres from the capital Baku, was leased to Russia for 10 years in 2002. The radar has been operational since early 1985. With a range of 6,000 kilometres, it is the most powerful in the region and can detect any missile launches in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

During his informal talks with US President George W Bush Monday, Putin reiterated his offer to the US of jointly using a radar being built in southern Russia, in addition to the missile early warning facility in Gabala.