Russia planning new arms sales to Iran despite sanctions

AFP – February 24, 2011

Russia will explore ways it can bolster its military cooperation with Iran despite current UN restrictions over its nuclear programme, a top Russian arms export official said Thursday.

 Mikhail Dmitriyev, the head of the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, told Kommersant that the fourth round of sanctions that the United Nations slapped on Iran in June hurt Russia’s defence industry.

 “But there are lines that we can pursue,” Dmitriyev said. “We will continue negotiating with Iran within the framework of these possibilities.”

 The latest UN sanctions resolution bans the sale to Iran of eight new types of heavy weapons to Iran, including the S-300 surface-to-air system whose highly controversial sale Russia was forced to scrap.

 But Russia has been able to sell Iran the short-range Tor air defence system, with Dmitriyev saying that Moscow intends to supply Tehran with new missile capabilities allowed under international law.

 “We have prepared a list of potential areas of cooperation with the Iranian side, and it is quite long,” the arms export official said.

 The S-300′s sale remained a major stumbling block in Russia-US relations, with Russian sales to the region also angering Israel.

 Russia has also completed the construction of Iran’s first nuclear power plant at Bushehr, which some Western powers fear may help fuel Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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