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Russia hits back at US criticism of Iran arms deal - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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MOSCOW,(Reuters) – Russia has every right to sell arms to Iran, its defence minister said on Wednesday, responding to mounting criticism of a $1 billion deal announced last week.

The United States, calling Iran a &#34state sponsor of terror&#34, said selling weapons to the Islamic Republic did not help the Middle East.

&#34This deal, this contract is absolutely legitimate. Like it or not, it”s our affair. There are plenty of things we don”t like either,&#34 Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said in comments shown on NTV television.

Moscow, already at odds with the West over its nuclear ties with Tehran, has stressed the deal concerns defensive weapons.

Western countries suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic programme, which Tehran denies, saying it wants only to generate electricity.

Diplomats have said the European Union is readying a protest about Russia”s sale of the TOR-M1s, which are designed to bring down aircraft and guided missiles at low altitudes.

&#34It is the established policy of the EU not to sell arms, including defensive arms, to Iran,&#34 said a draft copy seen by Reuters, which is awaiting comments from EU members and is likely to be amended.

Israel is particularly worried about Iran”s military potential after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in October that it should be &#34wiped off the map&#34 — comments condemned by Russia at the time.

Foreign ministers from the &#34EU3&#34 group of Britain, France and Germany are also planning to express their dismay at Iran”s apparent dismissal of a Russian proposal aimed at ending a stalemate over Tehran”s nuclear programmes, diplomats say.

Moscow had suggested Iran carry out sensitive uranium enrichment on Russian territory, but Tehran said it has the right to do this on its own soil.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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