Russia ready to commission radar watching Iran: report

MOSCOW Thu Aug 6, 2009 9:49am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will commission within the next three months a radar with the capacity to monitor rocket launches from the Middle East, including Iran, Interfax news agency said on Thursday.

In 2007, then President Vladimir Putin offered this radar, which has been under construction since 2006, and the Soviet-era Qabala radar in Azerbaijan, to Washington as Russia's contribution to a joint global anti-missile system.

Putin made the offer as an inducement to Washington to drop plans for building a missile shield in eastern Europe which Moscow says will ultimately be a threat to Russia's security.

But Washington is still standing by the missile shield plan though President Barack Obama, who wants to "reset" ties with Moscow, is showing less commitment to it than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

"As of now, mounting a high-voltage transformer to the station is under way," General Nikolai Abroskin, the head of military constructor Spetstroi told Interfax.

"As soon as that happens, the station will start combat duties," he added. "This will happen in October or November."

Disagreements over the U.S. anti-missile system have become one of the main strains on bilateral relations, which sank to post-Cold War lows in recent years.

(Writing by Oleg Shchedrov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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