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Moldova: Jet Sale Result Of Pentagon Agreement

Washington, 5 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. Defense Department says its purchase of 21 advanced jet fighters from Moldova is the result of an agreement signed with the former Soviet republic last summer.

Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced earlier yesterday that the U.S. bought from Moldova MiG29C aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons for the sole purpose of keeping such aircraft out of the hands of rogue nations.

The Pentagon says the U.S. and Moldova signed what is called a Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement in June that authorized the U.S. government to purchase the sophisticated jets from Moldova.

The Pentagon says the agreement is a joint effort by both governments to ensure that military weapons capable of handling nuclear weapons as well as conventional arms do not fall into the hands of rogue states.

Cohen said Iran had tried to buy the planes last month.

The Defense Department says the pact with Moldova is one of several agreements signed by the U.S. and former Soviet republics to establish cooperative measures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and technology, materials, and expertise.

The U.S. praised Moldova for its role in the agreement. Washington said the pact will lead to greater trust in U.S.-Moldovan relations.

The U.S. Congress gave the Pentagon broad authority in 1993 to facilitate the elimination of former Soviet weapons, either through destruction or purchase.