Russia to provide Iran with anti-aircraft systems

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Friday reiterated Moscow's commitment to supply Iran with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, local news agencies reported. "If there are no extraordinary circumstances, it (the contract) will without doubt be fulfilled," Ivanov was quoted as saying. Defense Ministry officials have previously said Moscow will supply 29 sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million ( 565 million) contract, according to Russian media reports.

The move was likely to upset the United States which last month called on all countries to stop all arms exports to Iran and to end all nuclear cooperation with it to put pressure on Tehran to halt uranium enrichment activities. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the United States and some of its allies suspect Iran is trying to develop weapons.

Ivanov sought to dispel possible criticism of Russia's moves, stressing that Moscow was following international weapons regulations. "As far as Russia's position is concerned, we strictly abide by all nonproliferation regimes, and when we hear reproaches that Russia is secretly helping Iran it is just propaganda," the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov as saying. He did not specify what the reproaches were, reports the AP.

N.U.