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Russia justifies arms sales to Iran

Reports by Press TV

Fomin's remarks have been interpreted as an indicator that Russian arms sales with Iran will enter a new chapter. The Russian Mil Mi-24 'Crocodile' chopper is seen here.
A senior Russian official says military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran will continue to ensure stability in the Middle East.

"Military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iran has a positive influence on stability in this region," Alexander Fomin, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said Wednesday.

The term "military-technical cooperation" is used by the Russians to describe arms sales to foreign governments, AFP reported.

President Dmitry Medvedev said in late October that Washington's opposition to Russian arms sales to Iran was only aimed at sidelining a successful competitor in the global arms market.

A deputy Russian prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, said Tuesday that the country's arms exports in 2008 exceeded $8 billion, RIA Novosti reported.

Meanwhile, US arms exports rose to $33.7 billion at the end of the 2008 fiscal year in comparison with the 2007 total of $23.3 billion.

Iran, militarily threatened by Israel and the US over its nuclear enrichment program, has sought to increase its defensive capabilities through domestic and international sources.

Moscow has recently delivered 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract signed in late 2005 and has trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

"We developed, are developing and will continue to further develop this cooperation. The security of the region depends on this to a significant degree," Fomin said.

There is also speculation that Russia will supply Iran with a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system -- capable of intercepting 100 ballistic missiles or aircraft at once, at low and high altitudes within a range of over 150 kilometers.

RIA Novosti, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Kremlin was fulfilling a contract to sell the S-300 defense system to Iran. According to Fomin, such systems benefit the whole region by preventing new military conflicts.

Insisting that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Tel Aviv, Israel has long argued that militarily taking out the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is a legitimate option.

Iran says its nuclear activities are directed at the civilian applications of the technology.

The UN agency monitoring Iran's nuclear work says unless Tehran increases its nuclear cooperation, it "will not be able to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."

The agency has confirmed, however, that it has "been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran."

A senior Russian official, meanwhile, said in early December that there is no evidence that "Iran can create nuclear weapons."

Moscow, helping Iran construct a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr, has worked closely with Tehran in the field of nuclear technology over the past decade.

'Israel may attack Iran in 2009'

A senior Israeli military officer has repeated threats against Iran, by suggesting that Tel Aviv may attack the country next year.

"The Military option is possible and nothing should be took out of table," said the Israeli officer while delivering a Tuesday background briefing on the strategic picture of Middle East in 2009, Xinhua reported without disclosing the officer's name.

The officer claimed that three major threats would endanger the regime in Tel Aviv in the coming year: Iran's long range missile abilities, military organizations in neighboring countries and asymmetric terrorism activities.

He also accused Iran of being on the path to becoming a 'nuclear country' and said that more 'decisive and timely' measures should be carried out against Iran's nuclear program, such as harsher sanctions.

"The question is not when Iran can be a nuclear country then when we can not prevent it from being a nuclear country," said the officer.

"...Iran will have enough nuclear materials in two or three years," he claimed.

Nuclear facilities in Israel, the Middle East's sole nuclear armed power, are believed to house over 200 ready-to-use atomic warheads. Israel is one of the only few regimes that are not members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

According to the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran has only enriched uranium-235 to a level of 'less than 5 percent', a rate consistent with the development of a nuclear power plant. An enrichment level of over 90 percent is required for nuclear weapon production.

... Payvand News - 12/17/08 ... --

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