h t t p : / / w w w . c n s . m i i s . e d u / p u b s / o b s e r v e r / p d f s / i e c o _ 0 5 1 1 e . p d Center for Nonproliferation Studies International Export Control Observer Issue 2, November 2005 f
Two Radar Stations Become Operational in Azerbaijan under the U.S.-Funded Caspian Guard Initiative
In an interview given to Agence France Presse on September 21, 2005, the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, Reno Harnish, provided details about the current status of U.S.-Azerbaijani border defense and maritime security assistance programs.
Ambassador Harnish stated that the U.S. government provided funds for the construction of two radar stations in the northern and southern parts of Azerbaijan in the framework of the Caspian Guard Initiative (CGI). One radar station is located near the town of Khizi (also spelled Khyzy, Xizi or Chyzy) in the mountainous northern part of Azerbaijan, approximately 50 km from the border with Russia. The other radar station is located near the town of Astara, located on Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea coastline in close proximity to the border with Iran. The Astara radar station is about 20 km from the town with the same name on the Iranian side of the border.[1,2,3]
According to Ambassador Harnish, the new radar stations are operational and have been integrated into the radar network that Azerbaijan inherited from the Soviet era.
Developed by the European Command (EUCOM) of the U.S. armed forces (headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany) and financed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the CGI (also referred to as the Caspian Guard) is aimed at strengthening air, ground, and maritime border defense of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan by addressing proliferation, terrorism, and trafficking threats around the Caspian Sea. Since its launch in the fall of 2003, the CGI has evolved from the concept development phase to full implementation with the establishment of an integrated airspace, maritime, and border control regime for Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. With a primary focus on maritime security and border defense, the CGI represents a unique effort in which the U.S. Military, civilian agencies, and commercial entities are engaged in partnership arrangements with host countries to protect key offshore oil industry infrastructure and to counter regional security threats emanating from weapons proliferation, contraband commodities.[4,5,6,7,8]
The Khizi and Astara radar stations are capable of spotting objects within a 400-450-km area at a maximum altitude of 300 km. The Astara radar station is designed to monitor the entire southern coastline of the Caspian Sea and the northern and northeastern parts of Iran, whereas the Khizi radar station covers the southern part of the Russian Federation, including Chechnya and Dagestan, as well as the entire northern coastline of the Caspian Sea. While the stated purpose for the construction and operation of the Astara and Khizi radar stations is to monitor the borders of Azerbaijan, these stations are also capable of detecting ballistic missile launches and intercepting radio communications and cellular phone conversations, not only on the territory of Azerbaijan, but also in the aforementioned parts of Russia and Iran.[1,3,9,10]
In his discussion of U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, Ambassador Harnish also noted that the U.S. government has already spent US$30 million on upgrading Azerbaijan’s coast guards’ equipment with