1 November Vedomosti Business Daily

Russia's state weapons exporter signs contract to supply

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Russia's leading state weapons exporter signed a contract to supply 30 MI-8 war transport helicopters to Iran.

The contract, estimated to be worth dlrs 150 million, was signed this summer after Russia pulled out of a secret agreement with the United States not to supply weapons to Tehran, the newspaper said.

The helicopters will be supplied by Rosoboronexport's aircraft factory in Ulan-Ude, in a Siberian region on Russia's border with Mongolia.

Russia alarmed the United States last year by announcing it would no longer abide by a 1995 agreement between then-Vice President Albert Gore and then- Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin on suspending Russian-Iranian arms trade.

The United States has accused Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and discouraged arms sales to the Islamic republic.

Moscow has been working on a series of arms contracts with Tehran over the past year. During a visit by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to Moscow in March, Russia agreed to supply dlrs 7 billion worth of weapons to Iran over the next several years.

The Iranian arms market is extremely enticing to Russia, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers. Iran spent an estimated dlrs 500 million to 700 million on arms last year, according to the newspaper report. Analysts have predicted that arms sales to Iran could bring Russia dlrs 300 million annually.

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