Soviet Workers Leave Iran; Iraqi Air Strikes Blamed
The Soviet Union is withdrawing about 800 technicians from economic projects in Iran because of Iraqi air strikes and a lack of progress in improving ties between Moscow and Tehran, Eastern European diplomats said today.
The diplomats and other sources said the Soviet Union already has withdrawn 500 technicians working on a steel mill in Isfahan and power plants in the cities of Isfahan and Ahwaz.
They said the technicians began leaving last March after Iraq bombed Tehran in the nearly 5-year-old Persian Gulf War. The technicians left on ships sailing from the Iranian port of Bandar Ansali on the Caspian Sea.
Exit Visas Delayed
Iran, however, has delayed granting exit visas to another 300 Soviets scheduled to be withdrawn, the diplomats and sources said.
They said Iran feared Iraq would bomb the projects if the Soviets left.
The officials said the Soviet withdrawal was due in part to Iraqi air attacks, and also to Soviet dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in relations between the Soviet Union and Iran.
“The Soviets feel that there is no reciprocity in the relations,” one source said.
In a related development, an unscheduled flight by the West German airline Lufthansa was to leave Tehran on Wednesday carrying German nationals out of the country.
“The flight is not an evacuation. School vacations have begun and the flight is intended to reduce the psychological pressure,” a spokesman for the West German Embassy said, noting that Iran Air flights were booked weeks in advance.