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News number: 8709201117

15:25 | 2008-12-10


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Russia's Arms Sale to Iran Justified

TEHRAN (FNA)- Moscow's bid to equip Tehran with advanced air defense systems does not violate international regulations, a former Russian official said.

In a Tuesday nuclear conference, former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov dismissed any concern over Russia's defense agreements with the Islamic Republic.

Moscow delivered some 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700 million contract clinched in late 2005 and has so far trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

Western countries have criticized Russia's sales of defensive military equipment to Iran, and have accused Moscow of pursuing a policy of double standards vis-à-vis Tehran's nuclear issue.

Russian officials, however, say the contract is completely in line with international law as it involves 'defensive hardware, which cannot be used for offensive purposes a priori'.

Ivanov, also defended a 1995 nuclear contract under which Russia's Atomstroyexport is helping Iran to build nuclear power plants capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity annually.

The former foreign minister said Iran's nuclear issue could be solved only by involving Tehran in direct negotiations, rather than threatening it by harsher sanctions.

"The more actively we involve Iran in the resolution of many global problems, and we have to admit that Iran is an active regional player, the closer we get in solving its nuclear problem," RIA Novosti quoted Ivanov as saying.

In a recently released report, IAEA Chief Mohammed ElBaradei said that the agency "has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran," adding that there has been 'no indication' of Iran conducting nuclear reprocessing activities.

ElBaradei later said that the West's policy of isolating Tehran over its nuclear activities has only complicated the issue in a Saturday interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"To continue to pound the table and say, 'I am not going to talk to you,' and act in a sort of a very condescending way -- that exaggerates problems," he said, adding that in retrospect, the sanctions may have hardened Iran's resolve.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of clandestinely running a nuclear weapon program.

Sanctions have played a pivotal role in the West's strategy to dissuade the Islamic Republic from enriching uranium. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, says the sanctions have helped the country 'stand on its two feet'.