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Moldova: U.S. Buys Jets To Keep Them Away From Iran

Washington, 5 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen says the United States has bought 21 advanced jet fighters from Moldova in order to keep them out of the hands of what he called rogue nations, such as Iran.

Cohen told reporters yesterday that Iran tried to purchase the Russian-built MiG-29C jets from Moldova last month. However, he says Moldova agreed to sell the planes to the U.S. Cohen says the Defense Department has been removing the planes from Moldova to an airbase in the American state of Ohio for the past two weeks.

The jets are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Cohen said the U.S. agreed not to reveal how much it paid for the aircraft.

He said the U.S. will put the planes back together and test them, however, he said the primary reason for buying the planes was to keep them away from countries that might threaten the U.S. and its allies.