Friday, June 30, 2006

Ivanov denies reports on Iran missile experts training in Russia

RIA Novosti:
Russia's defense minister denied Friday U.S. media reports that Iranian missile specialists were trained at an aerospace university in southern Russia.

Reports suggested that Revolutionary Guards Air Force officers had been sent to Samara State Aerospace University under the cover of a cultural delegation, but Sergei Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister, rejected the charges at a news conference. READ MORE

"We checked this information and confirmed it was a hoax," he said.

He said that it was a clear example of purposefully politicizing the issues of real cooperation in efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"I have to say that unfortunately, the U.S. often considers high-tech ties with Russia, including cooperation in space research and civilian nuclear energy, exclusively through the prism of the Iranian problem. In my opinion, this is wrong in principle," Ivanov said.

Russia has repeatedly spoken about its relations with Iran.

"Our position on this issue is extremely simple and crystal clear: we never had state cooperation with Iran in the sphere of missile technology, while in terms of nuclear technology, the only aspect of cooperation with Iran [in this field] is... the Bushehr nuclear power plant," Ivanov said.

Ivanov said spent fuel from the plant would be returned to Russian under international control for re-processing.