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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Putin says Russia won't be dictated to over arms exports

RIA Novosti

31/10/2007 19:25 NOVO-OGARYOVO, October 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not allow other countries to put restrictions on its arms exports, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a session of the military-technical cooperation commission, President Putin said that Russia would not take into consideration attempts to impose restrictions "based on unilateral and politicized assessments".

Putin also said deliveries of Russian weapons are aimed exclusively at increasing the defense capability of the countries receiving them, and at maintaining their stability.

"It is an absolute priority for us. Russia has strictly observed, is observing, and will strictly observe all international commitments in the military technical sphere, in particular, the export control regime," Putin said.

U.S. authorities have repeatedly called on Russia to stop arms deliveries to countries whose political regimes Washington disapproves of. Last week, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns urged the Russian government to stop arms deliveries to Iran.

Russia and Iran concluded a contract in late 2005 for deliveries of Tor-M1s. Tor-M1 is a high-precision missile system designed to destroy manned or unmanned aircraft, as well as cruise missiles flying at an altitude of up to 10 kilometers (6 miles). Russia subsequently supplied 29 Tor systems to Iran for $700 million.

U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice criticized on Wednesday Russia's weapons deliveries to Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly said Russian arms deals with Syria do not alter the balance of forces in the Middle East region. He also said Russia is fully in line with international commitments in the sphere.

Another country the U.S. would not like to receive weapons from Russia is Venezuela. The South American country has recently bought over 50 military helicopters and 24 Su-30MK2 fighters from Russia, as well as 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

According to a U.S. Congress report, in terms of arms deliveries to developing countries, Russia only lags behind the U.S. Last year, Russia concluded arms contracts with developing countries worth $8.1 billion. In 2005 the sum was $7.2 billion.

Putin also said Russia must considerably toughen reliability criteria for its military hardware.

"The most important thing is that together with an increase in [military hardware] exports, the responsibility for the quality of the products delivered to the customer, especially that of sophisticated arms systems and complexes, must grow. It goes without saying that it is impossible to completely exclude glitches. However, the reliability criteria of the weaponry and military equipment must be toughened," Putin said.

Putin said military hardware quality is "not only an economic category, but a question of state prestige".

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