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U.S. Buys Moldovan MiG-29 Fighters

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 1997 – The United States recently bought 21 nuclear-capable MiG-29 fighter jets from the Republic of Moldova to keep them out of the hands of potential enemies, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen announced Nov. 4.

"We have credible information that a number of rogue states, including Iran, are attempting to buy available Russian high-tech equipment and weapons in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union," Cohen said. "These aircraft were on their shopping list."

Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities, Cohen said. "It's in our overall interest to see to it that this kind of aircraft doesn't fall into their hands, if we can prevent it."

The Soviet-designed fighters were dismantled and moved from the Eastern European republic to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Air Force officials will study the aircraft's capabilities and ways to counter them, Cohen said.

The jets were purchased under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program aimed at reducing, controlling and eliminating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction from the former Soviet Union.

The program, also known as the Nunn-Lugar program, has helped draw down nuclear capabilities in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. U.S. officials also arranged to store weapons-grade uranium from Kazakhstan in the United States and helping enhance the security, control and accounting of nuclear weapons and fissile materials in Russia.

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