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News number: 8709280678

18:31 | 2008-12-18

Defence

نسخه چاپي ارسال به دوستان

Russia Justifies Arms Sales to Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Russian official said 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.

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.

A US attack on the Syrian village of Sukkariyah on October 26, has raised speculation about the likelihood of a US unilateral strike on the Islamic Republic.

Speculation that Israel could also bomb Iran mounted after a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

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.

Following intensified threats of military action by the US and Israel against the Islamic republic, Iran warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack.

The United States has always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran's progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned that in case of an attack by either the US or Israel, it will target 32 American bases in the Middle East and close the strategic Strait of Hormoz.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's oil supply passes through the waterway.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities "is unlikely" to delay the country's program.

In a Sep. 11 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy also said that in the two decades since the Iran-Iraq War, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.
According to the report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.

The study says that if Washington takes military action against the Islamic Republic, the scale of Iran's response would likely be proportional to the scale of the damage inflicted on Iranian assets.

Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran contradict a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's nuclear plans and activities.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran's nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran's nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West's allegations.