Russia says its concerns will ease if interceptors placed in Turkey

June 25, 2007, Monday/ 19:31:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
Installation of US anti-missile assets in Turkey instead of Eastern Europe will alleviate Moscow’s concerns about US plans, said Gen.Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian Army General Staff. In remarks carried by the ANKA news agency, Baluyevsky said yesterday that if placed close to Iran, anti-missile interceptors would technically make more sense because they would be more successful in early interception of missiles that could potentially be launched by Turkey’s neighbor.

“Iran can develop long-range ballistic missiles no sooner then 2015. So why not install assets for their prevention in Turkey?” Baluyevsky said. “Frankly this would alleviate Russia’s concerns.” He also proposed the US use the Gabala radar site, which Russia leases from Azerbaijan, instead of building a shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, and urged Washington not to act on its original plans before concluding proposed talks over the alternative radar site in Azerbaijan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously said in televised remarks that “Gabala completely covers the whole region that worries the Americans.”

Russian authorities say Washington’s response to Russian proposals will reveal “the genuine aims of the deployment of a missile shield in Europe.” Moscow suspects the move is part of a plan to restrain the nuclear potential of Russia, not to contain a possible nuclear threat from Iran as US and NATO officials say. Baluyevsky said Moscow insisted that the nuclear trend was not so catastrophic as to require the installation of interceptors on Russian borders. The US and NATO are treating Putin’s offer with caution. Turkish officials have refrained from making any official comment on the Russian proposal to install interceptors in Turkish territory.

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