A leading member of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) on Wednesday denied the newly disclosed U.S. claims that Armenia had re-exported weapons to Iran.
In a December 2008 secret letter to Sarkisian publicized by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte threatened U.S. sanctions against on Yerevan if it fails to “ensure such transfers do not occur in the future.”
A separate “background” note sent by the State Department to U.S. diplomats in Yerevan said that Armenia “facilitated” Iran’s purchase of rockets and machine guns in 2003. It said some of these weapons were used in a deadly militant attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.
Sarkisian’s office and the Armenian ministries of defense and foreign affairs have refused to comment on the leaked documents. A spokesman for Robert Kocharian, who was Armenia’s president in 2003, likewise declined a comment on Wednesday.
But Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of the ruling HHK, dismissed the WikiLeaks revelation as “nonsense.” “Armenia’s relations with America are at a quite good level, and the friendship of our peoples is continuing,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I exclude supplies of weapons to Iran through Armenia because that would have reflected negatively on our relations with the United States.”
“Armenia has no reason to supply weapons to a U.S. rival,” added Zohrabian. He claimed that the Armenian government is not officially denying the arms transfer because the U.S. State Department itself has not confirmed the veracity of the published documents.
A spokesman for the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) dismissed this explanation. “They just avoided refuting the obvious,” Arman Musinian told RFE/RL. “The U.S. government does not seems to have questioned the veracity of those documents.”
Musinian said the embarrassing U.S. accusations “exposed the essence of the Armenian authorities.” He speculated that they avoided U.S. sanctions because of making concessions to Washington on other issues.