Ruling Party Official Denies Armenian Arms Transfers To Iran
December 02, 2010
YEREVAN -- A leading member of President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) has denied recently disclosed U.S. claims that Armenia re-exported weapons to Iran, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
In an alleged December 2008 secret letter to Sarkisian publicized by WikiLeaks on November 28, then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte threatened U.S. sanctions against Yerevan if it fails to "ensure such transfers do not occur in the future."
A separate "background" note sent by the State Department to U.S. diplomats in Yerevan said that Armenia "facilitated" Iran's purchase of rockets and machine guns in 2003. It said some of these weapons were used in a deadly militant attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.
Sarkisian's office and the Armenian ministries of defense and foreign affairs have refused to comment on the leaked documents. A spokesman for Robert Kocharian, who was Armenian president in 2003, likewise declined to comment on December 1.
But Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of the ruling HHK, dismissed the WikiLeaks revelation as "nonsense."
"Armenia's relations with America are at a quite good level, and the friendship of our peoples is continuing," he told RFE/RL. "I exclude supplies of weapons to Iran through Armenia because that would have reflected negatively on our relations with the United States."
Zohrabian added that "Armenia has no reason to supply weapons to a U.S. rival." He claimed the Armenian government is not officially denying the arms transfer because the U.S. State Department itself has not confirmed the veracity of the published documents.
A spokesman for the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) dismissed this explanation. "They just avoided refuting the obvious," Arman Musinian told RFE/RL. "The U.S. government does not seems to have questioned the veracity of those documents."
Musinian said the embarrassing U.S. accusations "exposed the essence of the Armenian authorities." He speculated that the government avoided U.S. sanctions by making concessions to Washington on other unnamed issues.
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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