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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Use of force in Iran would threaten Central Asia - CSTO

RIA Novosti

01/03/2007 17:01 DUSHANBE, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - A possible military operation against Iran would jeopardize the security of the Central Asian states, the head of a post-Soviet security group said Thursday.

Iran has been at the center of international concerns since January 2006 over its nuclear program, which some countries, particularly the United States, suspect is geared toward nuclear weapons development.

Reports in the Western media say the U.S. could start a war against Iran at any moment.

"Air strikes on Iran will not stop its nuclear program," Nikolai Bordyuzha, general secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, told a news conference after a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov.

Russia, a key economic partner of Iran, has consistently supported the Islamic Republic's right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has resisted the imposition of harsh sanctions.

Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Bushehr in southern Iran, a project worth $1 billion, on a contract signed in 1995.

Bordyuzha said the situation in Afghanistan also threatens the Central Asian countries, adding that NATO has shown no interest in cooperating with the CSTO in the country.

Afghanistan has regained its position as the world's top drug producer since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001. Illegal drug production and trade is the only source of income for many in the war-torn southwest Asian nation, and is a major source of financing for Islamist militants.

CSTO members - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan - use the organization as a platform for fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime, and have pledged to provide immediate military assistance to each other in the event of an attack. The bloc has a Collective Rapid Reaction Force deployed in Central Asia, and is continuing to build up its military forces.

Two CSTO members, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, share borders with Afghanistan and are major trafficking routes for drug smugglers from the country. Heroin and other drugs from Afghanistan have also flooded Russia and other ex-Soviet states since the 1990s.

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