Iran Denies Buying Missiles From Ukraine

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran has denied reports it purchased unarmed nuclear-capable missiles from Ukrainian weapons dealers four years ago.

Ukrainian prosecutors said recently that weapons dealers had smuggled 18 nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China in 2001 during the rule of former President Leonid Kuchma.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun

President Viktor Yushchenko, who took office in January, has promised to investigate illicit weapons deals.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday there is no government record of such a missile deal. But it is widely believed Iran often buys weapons through individuals of various nationalities, rather than through official government agencies.

According to the office of Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, 12 of the missiles went to Iran and six to China.

Prosecutors say the 12 Kh55 cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,860 miles, were sold illegally. The Kh55 is known in the West as the AS-15 and can carry a nuclear warhead.