US fails to derail Iran-Russia arms deal
Press TV – March 8, 2009
The Russian foreign minister disappoints US hopes by clarifying that its military cooperation with Iran complies with international law.
"These issues ... are decided exclusively within the law and Russian national regulations… We are supplying non-destabilizing, defensive weapons," Sergei Lavrov said following a meeting with his US counterpart Hillary Clinton in Geneva.
"We fully take into account concerns voiced by our US and Israeli partners and favor intensification of work on proposals made by the 5-plus-one group, which include ... the start of equal talks with Iran and other regional states to ensure common security," he added.
Prior to the Friday meeting, the US Secretary of State had said that she would ask Sergei Lavrov to halt the transfer of long-range missiles from Russia to Iran.
These sales pose 'a threat to Russia as well as to Europe and neighbors in the region', Clinton claimed on Thursday.
During the Iranian defense minister's February visit to Moscow, Russian media reported that Tehran had sought to purchase sophisticated surface-to-air S-300 missiles to counter a potential Israeli air strike on its nuclear facilities.
This is while Washington and Moscow are at loggerheads over US plans to deploy 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic.
The White House says the plan is aimed to counter threats from countries such as Iran, but the Kremlin strongly rejects that notion, insisting that the so called shield aims to undermine Russia's national security.
Reports, which were later on rejected by both sides, said last week that US President Barack Obama had sent a letter to Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, offering to drop the European missile shield plan in exchange for Russian help to halt Iran's nuclear activities.
On Wednesday, Medvedev said that Moscow had received no such offer, but if it had the response would be that would reconsider its own missile plans if Washington did the same.
During the Geneva meeting, however, Lavrov and Clinton said that the two sides would start work on a security agreement, as they begin a new chapter in their relations.
Last updated 09/03/2009