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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

US Criticizes Russian Delivery Of Missiles To Iran

Washington (AFP): The United States on Tuesday criticized Russia's delivery of TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Iran, saying it sent a wrong signal as global sanctions were being imposed on the Islamic republic for its nuclear program. Moscow announced Tuesday that it had completed delivery of the missile defense systems which began in November last year.

The United States has urged Russia to cancel the sale, signed in 2005 for the purchase of 29 TOR-M1 missile systems estimated to be worth 700 million dollars (540 million euros). The missiles can strike planes, helicopters and cruise missiles.

"We don't think that it's an appropriate signal to be sending to the government of Tehran at this time, particularly when they are under UN sanctions for trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and when they continue to be in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions," deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

"We also believe as well that we certainly don't want to see any kind of lethal aid or assistance given to any country that's a state sponsor of terror," he said.

Washington accuses Iran of being a state sponsor of terrorism, a charge rejected by Tehran.

Asked whether Washington had protested to Moscow over the missile systems delivery, Casey said, "We've discussed this on a number of occasions, both here in Washington and in Moscow, with the Russian government.

"I'm not sure what communications might have gone on today. But again, I think we'll be continuing to make our views known on this subject," he said.

Iran has been slapped with limited UN sanctions for refusing demands to suspend its nuclear enrichment program -- a possible step towards development of atomic weapons.

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