Iran says missile charges 'propaganda' Copyright 1998 Nando.net Copyright 1998 Reuters TEHRAN, Iran (January 21, 1998 3:49 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Iran Wednesday rejected as "propaganda" charges by the United States that Iran planned to buy missiles from China and Russia. It said Washington was trying to cover up its recent delivery of advanced long-range warplanes to Israel. "Foreign Ministry spokesman (Mahmoud Mohammadi) termed remarks by American officials on sales of Chinese and Russian-built missiles to Iran as propagandistic sensationalism," state-run Tehran radio said. "Mohammadi said the unfounded propaganda by America about Iran's cooperation with China and Russia on missiles aimed to cover up Washington's sale of modern F-15 fighters to the Zionist regime (Israel) and its backing of this regime's expansionistic policies in the Middle East region," it said. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said Tuesday he received assurances from Chinese President Jiang Zemin that China had halted all transfers of anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran and would not help Tehran upgrade the cruise missiles it already had. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright earlier said she was encouraged Russia was moving to end cooperation with Iran's missile program but she refused to say if Moscow had gone far enough or to rule out U.S. sanctions. Israel Monday took delivery of the first two of a batch of 25 new F-15 planes, which have a 2,400-mile range, enabling them to reach Israel's enemies to the east, Iran and Iraq, without refueling. U.S. officials have said they believed Iran had obtained between 100 and 200 Chinese land- and sea-launched anti-ship missiles over the last four to seven years. Washington has expressed concern that the weapons could be used against U.S. warships or other ships in the Persian Gulf. Iran has not given details of its missile program, but insisted that its arms deployment in the waterway is purely defensive. Tehran has said Washington was accusing it of offensive intentions to sell more U.S. arms to oil-rich Gulf Arab states. Western intelligence reports say Iran is within a year or two of being able to deploy missiles that could deliver nuclear or chemical warheads about 850 miles -- enough to reach Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Iran has repeatedly denied U.S. and Israeli accusations it was seeking weapons of mass destruction, saying its nuclear sites are open to monitoring by the United Nations. According to U.S. sources, various Russian entities have supplied Iran with ballistic missile equipment. Iran and Russia have denied the U.S. reports.
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