Belarus vows to up military cooperation with Iran

Belarus pledged to increase military ties and cooperation with Iran on Wednesday, in a rebuff to United Nations sanctions passed last month. The Belarusian Defense Ministry said Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev, on a visit to Teheran, had met with his Iranian counterpart, Mostafa Mohammad Najar, as well as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two defense ministers on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for visits by expert delegations, military and technical cooperation, staff training and other consultations, the ministry said in a statement. "The development of bilateral contacts with Iran in the military sphere is being realized by the Belarusian side on the basis of its national interests and in strict accordance with the current norms of international law," the ministry said. The agreement is likely to renew fears about potential weapons sales to Iran, and fears that Belarus could serve as a conduit for Russian weapons.