IRANIAN officials have been visiting Cambodia with proposals to train RCAF staff
- an offer that if accepted is likely to jeopardize military co-operation with
The Post understands the first approach was made three months ago when an official
from the Iranian Embassy in Hanoi met with head of RCAF Ke Kim Yan.
At that time the offer was rejected.
But within the past month military officials from Iran have been in Phnom Penh and
have again met with Ke Kim Yan. Their visit has been described as private.
Military sources said that there was no defense co-operation protocol with Iran so
there was no mechanism to put any training program in place.
Senior RCAF staff spoken to by the Post have either denied the contact or shied away
from discussing it.
Co-Defense Minister Prince Sisowath Sirirath looked visibly shaken when the topic
was brought up, then said: "There are some things that are put in the top draw
and locked away and never discussed.
"We must be careful not to upset our allies."
And military co-operation with Iran is definitely going to upset some of Cambodia's
Those spoken to by the Post refused to speak on the record. However off the record
they said any such relationship with Iran would kill off any chances of military
assistance from their own countries.
It is not clear what assistance the Iranians were offering but the two most likely
areas are air defense and the navy.
Cambodia has no air defense system - all its Mig fighter aircraft are non-operational
and it has no working surface-to-air missiles.
The navy is in tatters and there is a growing realization at government level that
an effective navy is essential to assist with border control, smuggling, protection
of fishing grounds and guarding offshore petrochemical resources.