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Sunday, August 9, 1998 Published at 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK

World: Middle East

Israeli concern over Iranian missile threat

Iranian missile has a range of 800 miles (1300km)

Israel says that Iran could have its own medium-range missile within one year unless Russia and other countries stop supplying weapons technology to Tehran.

The warning was delivered by Israel's trade and industry minister, Natan Sharansky, after talks in Jerusalem between Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Russia's national security chief, Andrei Kokoshin.

It follows a move by Iran last month to test-fire a missile with a range of 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) - able to reach Israel, the Gulf States and parts of Russia and Turkey.

Pleading with Russia

Mr Netanyahu met with Mr Kokoshin in a bid to stop Russian arms technology exports.

Earlier this year, Russia said it was taking action to halt arms technology transfers to Iran by nine Russian companies and scientific institutes.

But Israeli officials claim little has actually been done and that Iran is still developing missiles capable of carrying conventional and non-conventional warheads with the assistance of Russian experts.

[ image: Saharansky: Fears threat to Israeli security]
Saharansky: Fears threat to Israeli security
"In the last months the Russians made a number of steps - legislative, administrative and practical," Mr Sharansky told journalists after meeting Mr Kokoshin.

"Nevertheless we will be satisfied not by the steps which are taken but by the results in the field which are alarming."

After the test-fire of the missile, identified as a Shahab-3, the United States responded by imposing sanctions on several Russian companies, which it believes have helped Iran develop its weapons programme.

The US and Israel have pressured Moscow to withhold the sale of rockets, nuclear technology and technical assistance to Tehran.

Israel believes Tehran cannot complete its development of the missile without further Russian help.

An Israeli official said Mr Netanyahu's meeting with Mr Kokoshin was scheduled in advance of President Bill Clinton's trip to Moscow next month.

Mr Clinton is expected to discuss the issue of Russian assistance to Iran's missile programme with President Boris Yeltsin.

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