Friday, January 29, 2010

Russia free to sell weaponry to Iran: exporter

Russia free to sell weaponry to Iran: exporter

MOSCOW, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Moscow is free to sell weaponry to Tehran, the head of Russia's state arms exporter said on Thursday.

"Nothing prevents the continuation of military cooperation in those directions of interest to Russia and Iran," Anatoly Isaikin, director-general of Rosoboronexport, said at a press conference.

"No special rules are applied to Iran in arms selling...Iran has never violated a single commitment it has undertaken with regard to military contracts," he was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency and the Interfax news agency as saying.

Russia agreed to sell S-300PMU1 missile systems to Iran under a deal reached several years ago, but hasn't made the delivery yet.

The deal is worth some 800 million U.S. dollars, according to unofficial sources.

The S-300PMU1 multi-channel mobile air defense system is designed to intercept modern and projected aircraft, strategic cruise missiles, and other targets flying at up to 2,800 meters per second.

Israel has urged Russia not to deliver such systems to Iran, alleging Iran wants to develop a military nuclear program and such a deal will not serve the interests of peace in the Middle East.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes.

Despite continuing its arms sale policy on Iran, recently Moscow has apparently moved closer to the West on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Iran on Wednesday that "it's impossible to wait forever" and that Russia's partners "are already talking about the need to discuss further steps at the U.N. Security Council." Beside the Iranian deal, Isaikin also said at the press conference that with an export of military products totalling 7.4 billion U.S. dollars last year, Russia anticipated to sell at least a similar amount this year.

"We do not expect arms deliveries abroad in 2010 to be lower than in 2009," he said.

Rosoboronexport's contract portfolio for the near future currently exceeded 34 billion dollars, he added.

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