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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ivanov: Sale of surface-to-air missiles to Iran perfectly legal

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Moscow, Dec 6, IRNA
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov defended here Monday the signing of an agreement to sell surface-to-air missile systems to Iran.

"The agreement conforms to all international agreements and commitments legally binding on Moscow," said Ivanov, who was speaking to reporters in Moscow.

He also said that the delivery of the systems will not disturb the military balance of power in the region.

The TOR-M1 defensive systems have medium-range capabilities for intercepting planes and missiles and are not designed for ground operations.

He said that missile systems are strictly defensive and do not have any offensive capabilities.

Besides, he said, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman had already announced that all military agreements entered into by the country, including accords signed with Iran, conform to all of Russia's international commitments aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Iran has entered into a contract to purchase 29 TOR M1 mobile surface-to-air missile defence systems from Russia worth more than USD 700 million (EUR 600 million).

The TOR-M1 is a mobile system designed for operation at medium- and low-altitude levels against aircraft and guided missiles. Each unit consists of a vehicle armed with eight missiles and a radar that can track 48 targets and engage two simultaneously.

Meanwhile, a senior Russian official said here last week that Moscow would not ship nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear power plant it is helping Iran build before the plant's scheduled completion in mid-2006.

The senior official from the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, Alexander Shmygin, told reporters that it would be "very hard" to keep any nuclear fuel if delivered under climatic conditions prevailing in the Persian Gulf.

It was not immediately clear whether Tehran had ever requested transfer of the nuclear fuel earlier than agreed upon.

Tehran and Moscow have set out a time-frame for the delivery of nuclear fuel under an agreement signed in February, but the dates have not been made public.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant, built under a one-billion-dollar deal, has already seen several dates for its completion pushed back.


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