Iran: October 16, 1999



Iran reports that it has begun building the Shahed-5 transport helicopter; the first production batch will comprise 20 helicopters. The Shahed-5 can carry 15 people. It has a maximum range of 600km, a service ceiling of 5,200m, and a top speed of 180km/hr (112mph).--Stephen V Cole

October 8; Iran denied any involvement with the the 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US troops. America announced they had proof of Iranian complicity. Iranian has long supported the Arab Shiites living along the west coast of the Persian Gulf. The Arab governments try to maintain good relations with Iran in order to keep this support for their Shiites down. The Shiites are looked down on and discriminated against by the Sunni majority in the Arab Gulf  states, so the Shiite situation is always a volatile one. But the Iranians also use this connection to, for example, pressure the Saudis not to be too aggressive in finding the Shiite radicals who apparently were behind the 1996 bombing.

October 7; It's no secret that Iran is the paymaster and chief weapons supplier for the anti-Israeli Hezbollah in Lebanon. Until recently, weapons and equipment for Hezbollah were flown to Syria, and then trucked into Lebanon. But now Iran is flying this material directly to Lebanon. Apparently the reason has to do the Syria edging closer to making peace with Israel. If that happens, Israel will insist on Syria cutting any ties to Hezbollah.