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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 17, July - August 1997

Iran Rebuts Latest Proliferation Allegations

On 16 June, US Defense Secretary William Cohen repeated the view of the Clinton Administration that Iran is, notwithstanding the recent presidential election of the moderate candidate Mohammed Khatami, intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. Speaking in Kuwait City, Cohen averred:

"They obviously have had chemical weapons under development, possibly biological weapons... In our estimation at least, they've been trying to develop a nuclear capability sometime into the future... if they continue to pursue the same path...then we obviously would have to contain our policy of containment..."

On 17 June, the US Department of Defense (DoD) briefed reporters on a successful air-to-surface anti-ship cruise missile test-launch earlier in the month. According to an unnamed official, speaking during Secretary Cohen's visit to Gulf States:

"[The US] has some of the most capable systems in our ships out here...designed specifically to handle the cruise missile threat. ... [But this new missile] means that it is another degree of complexity, it means that your readiness always has to be up, and that [an attack] can come in a lot quicker."

On 29 June, General Mohsen Rezai, the Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, stressed Iran's commitment to peace and non-proliferation in the Persian Gulf region. In an interview with the Kayhan International newspaper, General Rezai stated: "We are seeking to expand our defence capability, but we have no desire to acquire banned weapons such as nuclear bombs and chemical weapons."

Signalling an apparent change in policy, General Rezai added: "Now we are ready to sign security and defence pacts with our Arab neighbours."

Reports: Iran poses threat to Gulf with arms build-up - Cohen, Agence France-Presse International News, 16 June; DoD background briefing, Iranian cruise missile launch, United States Information Agency, 20 June; Iran not seeking nuclear weapons, wants Gulf defence pacts - General, Agence France-Presse International News, 29 June; Iran ready to sign security pacts with Gulf countries - Commander, Xinhua English Language News Service, 29 June.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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