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Friday, March 6, 2009

US to Russia: Stop Iran missile sale talks

Thu, 05 Mar 2009 22:24:36 GMT | PressTV

The S-300 missile system
The US Secretary of State says she will urge Russia to stop military cooperation with Iran during a Geneva meeting with her Russian counterpart.

Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that she would ask Sergei Lavrov during their Friday meeting to halt talks with Iran about selling long-range missiles which she said is 'a threat to Russia as well as to Europe and neighbors in the region'.

During the Iranian defense minister's visit to Russia in February, Russian media reported that Tehran had sought the sophisticated surface-to-air S-300 missiles to counter a potential Israeli air strike on its nuclear facilities.

Tehran says the only aim of its nuclear program is the civilian applications of the technology. The US, Israel and their European allies -- Britain, France and Germany -- accuse Iran of pursuing military purposes.

Under the allegation, Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran.

The S-300 surface-to-air system, known as the SA-20 in the West, can track targets and fire at aircrafts 120 km (75 miles) away. It also features high jamming immunity and is capable of simultaneously engaging up to 100 targets.

Clinton's remarks come while the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexei Borodavkin, has said that Moscow will continue its military cooperation with Tehran under international regulations.

News agencies quoted White House officials as saying on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama had sent a confidential letter to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, calling on Moscow to join the US front to stop Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for Washington's backing off its missile shield plan in Europe.

Both White House and Kremlin officials denied that Obama's letter contained any offers of a deal over Iran and Washington's missile program in Europe.

Washington and Moscow are at loggerheads over US plans to deploy 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic. The White House says the plan is aimed to counter threats from countries such as Iran.

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