'Russia, Iran to hold naval maneuver'
The Jerusalem Post (Link) (July 29, 2009)
For the first time, Russia and Iran will hold a joint naval maneuver in the Caspian Sea, The Iranian Mehr News Agency reported Wednesday. According to the report, the maneuver will include 30 Russian and Iranian ships, as well as helicopters.
A senior official in the Iranian ports authority was quoted by the report as saying that the maneuver would increase the coordination between the two countries, and focus on search and rescue operations and the prevention of pollution. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report.
Russia enjoys extensive trade ties with Teheran and has been opposed to imposing further sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment program.
Moscow is building Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr, has provided Teheran with weapons and needs Iranian assistance on the Caspian Sea and other regional issues.
In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Iran is "our neighbor, it's a country which can play a very important role in solving a number of acute international issues, such as the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and different aspects of Mideast peace settlement."
In June, a Russian news agency reported that the completion of Iran's first nuclear plant was being delayed by Russian banks refusing to work with Iran.
Iran is paying Russia more than $1 billion (�630 million) to build the light-water reactor and has already received several shipments of enriched uranium for its operation.