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Gulf Presses NATO For Nuclear Free Zone

Doha (AFP) Dec 02, 2005
The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council called on NATO Friday to press for the elimination of nuclear arms in Gulf region so that it does not become a "sandwich" between Israel and Iran.

"I call on NATO to exercise direct pressure to eliminate WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) from our region, without exception," said Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah, GCC secretary general.

Attiyah, who was speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Qatar on NATO's role in Gulf regional security, said "we do not want our region to be sandwiched by arms here and arms there."

While Israel strongly denies that it already has a nuclear arsenal, it is widely believed to have one.

Iran, which is pressing ahead with a campaign of civil nuclear development, is suspected by many countries of using that program as a cover for developing atomic weapons. Tehran strongly denies those claims.

Attiyah said Iran's nuclear program "has become worrisome for the region and a fundamental concern for all the countries of the world... but we also ask that Israel's arsenal be controlled."

Asked if he was reassured by Tehran's insistence that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, he said: "We hope so, because that is exactly what we want ... a secure and non-nuclear zone."

But he said that "Israel was the first to introduce these types of arms into the region, which has led other states to seek to imitate it."

He expressed concern about a cycle of action and reaction that could lead to a spread of atomic weapons throughout the region.

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Iran To Buy Air Defence Systems From Russia
Moscow (AFP) Dec 02, 2005
Iran has agreed to purchase 29 mobile air defence systems from Russia in a contract worth more than 700 million dollars (600 million euros), Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS said Friday, quoting an unnamed top defence ministry official.

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