Russia arms exporter sees record 2010 sales
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's largest arms exporter Rosoboronexport expects to sell a record $10 billion (6 billion pounds) worth of arms this year, its head said on Thursday, helped by clients seeking an alternative to U.S. weaponry.
The state-owned company, which has customers ranging from China to Washington's foe Venezuela, had exports of $8.5 billion (5.3 billion pounds) last year. It is expected to close several long-standing deals this year, possibly including a big delivery of Sukhoi fighter jets to India.
"At the end of the year there will be some major deliveries. On that account the total amount (of exports) will exceed $10 billion (6 billion pounds)," general director Anatoly Isaikin told a press briefing.
Rosoboronexport accounts for between 80-90 percent of Russia's arms exports, which have risen in recent years as arms buyers seek alternatives to United States weaponry. Many of those clients are opposed to U.S. foreign policy, such as Venezuela, whose arms deals with Russia have angered Washington.
Russia has also inherited numerous arms relationships from the Soviet Union.
The company was criticised by the United States and Israel earlier this year for its planned sale of an S-300 air defence missile system to Iran.
The deal over the high-precision surface to air missile was eventually frozen following the United Nation's decision to impose a fourth round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Russia voted in favour of U.N. sanctions that expanded an already-existing list of arms embargoed by the Security Council.
"We closely adhere to those sanctions and to that list," Isaikin said, celebrating the firm's 10th anniversary.
"We don't have an absolute taboo on certain categories of arms. We deliver other types of arms to Iran."
Rosoboronexport faced U.S. sanctions earlier this year for its suspected role in helping Iran try to develop missile systems for suspected nuclear weapons.
Those sanctions were lifted in May.
The West has punished Iran with numerous layers of sanctions for a nuclear programme said to be a front for developing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the allegations and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
Isaikin also said Russia has no contracts with Syria to sell anti-ship cruise missiles, contradicting a news report from September in which Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukhov was quoted as saying that Russia planned on pushing ahead with the $300 million (188 million pounds) missile deal.
Israel had raised objections to the deal, saying the missiles could end up in the hands of Hezbollah guerrillas in northern Lebanon.
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