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Israel to Lobby Russia Against Iran Missile Technology Transfer - 2001-09-02

Israel will ask Russia to stop transferring nuclear-missile technology to Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leaves Monday for a three-day visit to Russia and plans to raise the issue during talks in the Kremlin.

Mr. Sharon plans to voice his concerns when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

According to Israeli government officials, Mr. Sharon will say that the lives of nearly six-million citizens in his country - including those of Russian descent - will be in danger if the Iranians manage to build a nuclear missile.

Israel military commanders see an Iran armed with atomic weapons as the greatest threat to security in the Middle East. According to Israeli intelligence reports, Iran is on course to have missiles with nuclear warheads by 2005.

American intelligence reports quoted in Israel say that 2007 is the more likely date for reaching this goal.

Israel believes that the process can be halted if Russia agrees not to continue its transfer of nuclear technology to Tehran.

Mr. Sharon's national security adviser, Uzi Dayan, met last week in Washington with senior U.S. Government officials and called for them to put pressure on Russia to stop aiding in the development of an Iranian atomic-weapons program.

The Hebrew daily newspaper Ha'aretz reports that Mr. Sharon has given greater recognition to the potential dangers posed by Iran's ambitions to become a strong military power.

In the past, Mr. Sharon had stated that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, posed a greater threat to Israel than Iran.

Russia has not officially acknowledged helping Iran to develop atomic weapons, but some officials in Moscow say it is possible there had been what they called "leaking" or "illegal transfers" of such technology to Tehran.