Russia’s Foreign Ministry and its Foreign Intelligence Service yesterday categorically denied U.S. and Israeli media reports accusing Moscow of continuing to help Iran develop ballistic missiles. A Foreign Ministry source said that such reports "do not correspond to reality" and reiterated that Moscow has "given numerous clarifications on this matter to both the Americans and Israelis."
The comments out of Moscow follow an August 24 Israeli TV report that claimed hundreds of Russian scientists are now at work in Iran on the missile project. (See yesterday’s Monitor) In addition, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly sent a strongly worded message to Russia’s Foreign Ministry last week protesting Moscow’s cooperation with Iran in the project, and, at a subsequent cabinet meeting, was said to have proposed freezing Israeli economic ventures with Russia if that cooperation continues. (Russian agencies, Xinhua, August 26)
In Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said on August 25 that the U.S. "takes very seriously" the reports that Iran is receiving Russian missile technology. He also confirmed that the subject has arisen in talks between Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, and said that the U.S. believes the Russian government is committed to the highest possible standards of missile non-proliferation. Rubin’s last remark presumably alludes to the belief of some in Washington that Russian technicians may be operating in Iran without the official sanction of the Kremlin. Unnamed U.S. officials reportedly told the New York Times that the assistance given to the Iranians by Russian specialists is continuing. (AP, August 25)
Russo-Japanese Relations: Problems and Progress.