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Austrian Rifles via Iran?: Another Crock
by juan cole (reposted)
Sunday Feb 18th, 2007 9:29 AM

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Austrian Rifles via Iran?: Another Crock

An extremely well-informed observer sent me this comment on the story that Iran is sending high-powered Austrian rifles to Iraqi Shiites. Like the whole USG story about Iran supplying deadly weapons to dangerous Shiite militias, this one turns out to be riddled with falsehoods.

' Please allow me to comment on the Austrian Sniper rifles.

There was a deal between Steyr-Mannlicher and the Iranians in the last year of Khatami's presidency, which followed as usual legal procedures, thus the Iranians handed out an end-user certificate. Originally the Iranians wanted 800 but in the end only 300 were delivered.

The rifle has no automatic capability but can pierce metal plate at a distance of 1000meters. The Iranian border guards allegedly use it to shoot at long distance into the motor blocks of the SUVs and pickups of the Drug gangs operating alongside the Afghan border.

There were American and I think also British protests when the deal was concluded. It is important that this was before Ahmadinezhad did his odious speech on Israel and the Holocoust, otherwise I cannot imagine that the Austrians would have concluded the deal.

The original article about Austrian rifles in Iraq appeared in the Daily Telegraph and is full of inconsistencies. For instance they say that the US found 100 of these rifles in Iraq and 170 American and Coalition troops have been killed by that weapon.

As far as I know 170 is the total of US and Coalition troops killed by Shiite militias; total combat casualties are about 3000! The vast majority has been killed by IEDs and other explosives. The article bases its accusations on a US display of weaponry designed to prove that Iran has been supplying Shia insurgents in Iraq, but there is no single line about the Austrian rifles.

But both articles put the Iranian nuclear issue centre stage! Meanwhile the US are unable to provide the Austrians with the guns' serial numbers. Steyr-Mannlicher also hinted at the fact that these guns can easily be rebuilt as the licencing has expired and one can buy them in countries like Canada. '
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