Russian authorities admitted for the first time yesterday that Iran had tried to obtain missile technology from Russian companies. A spokesman for the country’s domestic counter-intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), conceded to reporters that Russian authorities had been forced to respond on an unspecified number of occasions to incidents in which "Russian deliveries [to Iran] may have contradicted requirements of the missile technology control regime." But, he said, all such attempts had been "exposed and stopped at an early stage." The FSB statement made mention of only one particular case, in which Iran attempted earlier this year to contract with the Russian company NPO Trud to build components for missile engines. The parts were reportedly disguised as equipment for gas compressor stations. The FSB official insisted that, in its export of military hardware to Iran, Russia "unswervingly observes" international commitments against ballistic missile and nuclear weapons proliferation. (AP, Itar-Tass, October 2)
The official’s last remark notwithstanding, Moscow’s denial of cooperation with Iran on the development of missile technology was less categorical than have been its many previous statements on the issue. It follows repeated accusations from Israel and the U.S. that hundreds of Russian specialists are involved in an Iranian project to develop ballistic missiles. Israeli authorities elaborated on those charges on September 30 when they said that Iran was within 18 months of developing a missile with a range of 810 miles. An Israeli official also claimed that two Russian companies — the Polyus Research Institute in Moscow and NPO Trud in Samara — are involved in developing the missile’s engine and guidance system. Another official pointed to the involvement of two Russian research institutions, and said that the Russian Space Agency had provided wind-tunnel testing for the rocket’s fuselage. Spokesmen at the various institutions singled out either denied the Israeli charges or were unavailable for comment. (AP, September 30; see also, Monitor, September 11-12)
More Power to the Soviets?