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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 00-01-05

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Britain refused to inform Cyprus on possible Akrotiri nukes

YESTERDAY’S papers all reported on the issue of nuclear weapons stored at the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) in the 1960s, and on the British High Commissioner's refusal to confirm the report revealed in the British archives, saying it was an issue that concerned the sovereign bases. The papers also reported on a reported deal by the defence ministry to buy Russian-made attack helicopters.

Simerini reported on Britain's refusal to inform the government if nuclear weapons were kept at the British bases. The issue came up after the release of Foreign Office documents under the 30-year rule, which revealed that, in 1969, military aircraft based in Akrotiri were carrying nuclear bombs. Simerini said British High Commissioner Edward Clay on Monday told reporters that the Cyprus Government was not informed about the existence or not of nuclear weapons at the SBA because, he said, this issue concerned only the SBA. President Clerides, the newspaper said, told reporters on Monday that the SBA had never disclosed any information about their nuclear arsenal, to any of the Cyprus governments from 1960 until today. Clerides also assured the Cypriot people that they were not in danger from any nuclear leaks.

Alithia reported yesterday that the Defence Ministry had denied reports by Politis newspaper, which had Cyprus negotiating the purchase of Russian-made Mil-Mi28 attack helicopters. The reports held that Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos had negotiated the deal during his recent visit to Moscow. Alithia quoted Hasikos as saying that the reason for his visit was to renew a defence agreement between Russia and Cyprus, therefore anything reported in the press lacked foundation and was inaccurate.

Phileleftheros reported on the helicopter issue too, but maintained that the issue was still open because, it claimed, the Defence Ministry had been planning for two years to acquire helicopters. It was also known, said Phileleftheros, that after the problems with South Africa, the ministry had turned to the Russian market, not for the Mil-Mi28, but for another, more developed and modern type of attack helicopter. The newspaper claimed that, apart from attack helicopters, Cyprus was also looking to acquire a number of general-purpose helicopters.

Phileleftheros also reported on the increased measures taken by the police to prevent terrorist hits against the Russian embassy. The measures, the newspaper said, had been stepped up after the attack on the Russian embassy in Lebanon, and in the wake of continuous information about new hits against Russian interests. According to Phileleftheros, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said that the measures were being stepped up after police had received alarming information from foreign services.

Politis yesterday insisted that Cyprus was in fact buying helicopters from Russia, and could not understand why the Defence Ministry had denied the information. Politis, which reported the deal first on Monday, said that the information had already been reported by several international news agencies, one of which was Reuters. Politis went on to say Cyprus was initially interested in the KA-50 attack helicopter, but after a special study, the newspaper claims, it was decided that the Mil- Mi28 or Mil-Mi24 would better suit its needs. Politis also claimed that a European country was also ready to sell helicopters to Cyprus, but it did not disclose the type of the helicopters.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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