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Russia's use of Iran's Hamadan air base 'not on agenda'

By
Allen Cone
The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's aircraft carrier, has been in the Mediterranean Sea serving as the launch pad for the aerial operation against militants in Syria. Last month, Iran gave permission to Russia to use its air base in Hamadan if the carrier is used elsewhere but an Iranian official said Monday it's now not on the agenda. Photo courtesy the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's aircraft carrier, has been in the Mediterranean Sea serving as the launch pad for the aerial operation against militants in Syria. Last month, Iran gave permission to Russia to use its air base in Hamadan if the carrier is used elsewhere but an Iranian official said Monday it's now "not on the agenda." Photo courtesy the Russian Ministry of Defense.

TEHRAN, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Russia's use of Iran's Hamadan air base is "not on the agenda," an Iranian official said, though that may change if the situation calls for it in efforts to launch airstrikes on insurgents in Syria.

Bahram Qassemi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, made the comments during a news conference Monday in Tehran about whether Russia will use the air base if its aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, leaves Syria's coastline on the Mediterranean for a new mission.

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"Whether it is necessary [for Russia] to use our territory again as it did before will depend on relevant situations in the future. But currently it is not on the agenda," he said.

But the situation might change. "We have no essential problem in this regard, but necessary arrangements would have to be made in advance," he said.

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Iran allowed Russia to operate from the base starting on Aug. 16 but the Tu-22 bombers returned to Russia one week later after completing an anti-terror mission. Iran became uneasy about the situation because the Iranian Constitution prohibits any foreign forces on Iranian soil.

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Last month, Russian and Iranian officials said Russia may return to using the air base if needed. Qassemi said Monday that use isn't currently being discussed.

"Naturally, the Russians are keen to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and that they are active in security issues in the region and the world," Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehghen said at the time. "There has been a kind of showing off and inconsiderate attitude behind the announcement of this news."

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But last month Dehghen said it could use the base, also identified as the Noje air base and the Shahrokhi air base, if the situation necessitated it.

Shortly later, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of Russian upper house of parliament's defense committee told RIA Novosti that the Russians could use the base if the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, moved out of the Mediterranean.

Ali Larijani, chairman of Iran's parliament, said Russia was not establishing a permanent military base on Iranian soil.

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