Report: Russian defense firm supplying Iranian missile program

Ties between Tehran and Russian weapons manufacturer Rosoboronexport began in 2006, when the firm provided Iran with a slew of defensive missile systems. 

{mosads}Since then, the company has continued to supply parts and systems to Iran, as part of the country’s commercial space program, according to a recent U.S. intelligence assessment sent to Congress. 

Critics of the program claim Iran’s ongoing work to develop commercial satellite technologies could also be used to develop a long-range missile system. 

News of the intelligence assessment linking Rosoboronexport to Iran’s was first reported by Ynetnews on Monday. 

However, the company’s relationship with Iran did not indicate that Moscow was taking a direct hand in assisting the country’s satellite or missile programs, according to the intelligence report. 

“The assessment is that Moscow is almost certainly not adopting a policy of supplying support for Iran’s missile program,” it states. However, intelligence analysts did note that Russia had not taken any steps to block Rosoboronexport from doing business with the Iranian government. 

Along with Iran, the Russian arms company has come under fire by members of Congress for supplying weapons to government forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad. 

Those weapons have been used to hammer away at anti-government rebels fighting to overthrow Assad’s government. As a result, lawmakers have been stepping up pressure on the Pentagon to cut its ties to the company. 

On Monday, Sen. John Cornyn sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, demanding DOD end its multimillion-dollar contract with the company. 

He said the firm’s business dealings with the Pentagon undermine American and international diplomatic and economic efforts to depose Assad from power. 

“I remain deeply troubled that the DoD would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria. Such actions by Rosoboronexport warrant the renewal of U.S. sanctions against it, not a billion-dollar DoD contract,” Cornyn wrote. 

The Russian company is under DOD contract to supply Mi-17 helicopters to Afghan security forces. 

Defense Department officials claim that cutting off Rosoboronexport and losing those supplies of Mi-17s would significantly delay U.S.-led training of Afghan forces. 

Boosting the capability of the Afghan military is key to the White House’s plan to have all American troops out of Afghanistan by 2014.

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