Iran, China to exchange expertise on aerospace technology

Friday, December 3, 2004

Iran has signed a satellite cooperation accord with China in a development that could accelerate Teheran's intermediate- and long-range missile programs, U.S. officials said.

On Wednesday, the State Department imposed sanctions on four Chinese and one North Korean entity for missile exports to Iran. Some of the entities have already come under U.S. sanctions.

Iran and China signed a memorandum of understanding meant to improve aerospace and satellite cooperation. Under the MoU, China would exchange expertise in the area of satellites and aerospace technology and sciences, Middle East Newsline reported.

[On Thursday, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance, the leading group opposed to the Teheran regime, held a briefing to discuss Iran's intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile programs. The council said Iran was developing a solid-fuel missile with a range of 2,500 kilometers and tipped with a nuclear warhead.]

The official Iranian news agency, Irna, reported that the MoU was signed in Beijing on Nov. 30

The agency said the accord signed by Iranian Space Agency director Hassan Shafti and Chinese National Space Agency director Lae-on Soon was meant to consolidate bilateral cooperation in the field of aerospace technology and sciences.

"Under the MoU, the two sides are to use aerospace technology for peaceful purposes, particularly telecommunication and research satellites," Irna said.

Shafti headed an Iranian delegation that discussed Beijing's assistance to Teheran's satellite program. Iran was said to be preparing to launch three satellites in 2005 and has been discussing cooperation with France and Russia. This week, a Russian delegation held talks with Iranian officials on reviving the Zohreh communications satellite program.

During the visit to Beijing, the Iranian delegation toured several Chinese centers for science, research and aerospace technology. China plans to send more than 100 satellites into orbit by 2020.

Over the last two years, the United States has imposed sanctions on a range of Chinese companies accused of sending missile components and technology to Iran. The Bush administration has regarded Iran's satellite program as a cover for its intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile programs.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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