Reuters: The United States on Tuesday criticized Russia’s sale and delivery of anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, saying the move sent the wrong signal. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday criticized Russia’s sale and delivery of anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, saying the move sent the wrong signal.
“We don’t think that it’s an appropriate signal to be sending to the government of Tehran at this time, particularly when they are under U.N. sanctions for trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and when they continue to be in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said of the sale.
Russia also said it would consider further requests by Tehran for defensive weapons.
Russian arms sales and nuclear cooperation with Iran have strained relations with Washington, which suspects Tehran of using a nuclear power program as a guise for building an atomic bomb. Iran says it is for peaceful power purposes.
Last month, the United Nations passed a resolution imposing restrictions on Iran’s trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology, aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Casey said Washington had discussed with Moscow the sale of military items to Tehran on a number of occasions and the Bush administration would continue to make its views known.
“We also believe as well that we certainly don’t want to see any kind of lethal aid or assistance given to any country that’s a state sponsor of terror. And as we’ve said, Iran is the leading state sponsor in the world (of terrorism),” he said.
Casey acknowledged there was not a “blanket ban” in the U.N. Security Council resolutions related to conventional weapons transfers to Iran.
Moscow says the sanctions do not apply to the missile systems, which are designed to shoot down aircraft, missiles and other weapons at medium and low altitudes.
Washington last year imposed sanctions on leading Russian arms firms over arms sales to Iran and Syria.