Russia suspends Iskander missile exports : Official

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Moscow, Nov 12 (UNI) Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said today it was not planning to export Iskander tactical missile systems until Russia's Armed Forces had been fully supplied with them.

''There will be a break in Iskander supplies abroad until we have supplied the Russian Armed Forces with them,'' Nikolai Dimidyuk, a senior Rosoboronexport official told RIA Novosti news agency.

He said the companies producing the systems were not facing financial problems despite the ongoing credit crisis.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this month the country would deploy Iskander-M systems (SS-26 Stone) with a range of 500 km in the Kaliningrad region, sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, to ''neutralise if necessary'' a proposed US missile defence system in Central Europe.

However, Mr Dimidyuk said neighbouring Belarus would be supplied with the Iskander-E system, which is a shorter-range export version of the Iskander-M.

The decision was announced in 2007 and was prompted by the proposed missile shield elements in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Mr Medvedev's move sparked a wave of criticism in Europe, while some experts in Russia have expressed doubts over the reliability of Moscow's response to Washington's missile shield plans.

Mr Dimidyuk earlier said a number of countries, including Syria, the UAE, Malaysia and India, had shown an interest in the missile system.

Earlier, Russia was reported to be interested in exporting the Iskander-E to Algeria, Kuwait, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea.

UNI XC RJ AS1924

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