4 September IranExpert

Iran, Russia to boost military cooperation

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Russian defense sources said the comprehensive strategic and military contract will be signed during the visit by Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani. Shamkhani arrives in Moscow later this week for a four-day visit and is expected to complete the final details of a weapons deal. Iran and Russia seem to enjoy a firm resolve to push for better strategic ties.

Training of more than 5,000 Iranian military men and joint cooperation on regional strategic issues are among the most important issues to be discussed by the two sides. Iran is due to buy arms and military hardware from Russia worth 10 billion dollars within the next 10 years. MiG 29 fighter planes, Tom 1 and 300s missiles, advanced military tanks, and Kiloklas submarines are on the list of purchase offered during Shamkhani's visit to Moscow. Furthermore Iran intends to buy large military cargo plans allowing it to extend its military operations across a wider sphere.

Iran has become one of the 20 first producers of weaponry in the world and arms embargoes has forced it to develop its military industrial complex. During his Russian visit, Shamkhani would push for transfer of the Russian modern technology to Iran.

Last December Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev paid a visit to Tehran which was followed by a visit to Moscow by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in March this year. The visit by the Iranian head of state to the Russian capital was the first in nearly 30 years and alarmed the United States which sees Iran as a "rogue state" having the possibility of establishing a military and civil nuclear cooperation with Moscow.

Tehran and Moscow insist the nuclear cooperation is of a strictly civilian nature. They say arms will be defensive and that sales will not violate Russia's international treaty obligations. Moscow told the United States last year it did not consider itself bound any longer by the secret 1995 deal which forbid it from selling arms to Iran. The deal, agreed to by then U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and then Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, barred Russia from signing new contracts for Iranian purchases of conventional weapons. Existing contracts were to be completed by 1999.

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