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Friday, November 24, 2006

Russia sends missiles to Iran

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Russia has begun delivery of Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran, a Defense Ministry official said Friday, confirming that Moscow would proceed with arms deals with Tehran in spite of U.S. criticism.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue, declined to specify when the deliveries had been made and how many systems had been delivered.

Ministry officials have previously said Moscow would supply 29 of the sophisticated missile systems to Iran under a $700 million (565 million euros) contract, according to Russian media reports.

The United States called on all countries last spring to stop all arms exports to Iran, as well as ending 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 its allies suspect Iran is trying to develop weapons.

The U.N. Security Council, where Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member, is currently stalemated on the severity of sanctions on Iran for defying its demand to cease uranium enrichment.

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