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#9 - JRL 7016
Russia to adopt NATO classification for arms sales

MOSCOW, Jan 13 (AFP) - Russia agreed Monday to adopt a tracking system for its military equipment classifying items in accordance with NATO standards, in a move that analysts say should help Russia compete on the global arms market. While keeping its own tracking system, Russia will also begin assigning a so-called NATO Stock Number to its equipment, according to an agreement signed Monday by a visiting NATO delegation and their Russian counterparts.

"This should greatly increase the export capabilities of our defense industry," Boris Alyoshin, head of Russia's standardization organization, was quoted as saying by the Interfax-AVN military news agency.

The system involves assigning a string of numerical codes to equipment, listing the equipment and its country of origin.

The system is used uniformly by all nations who join it, and eases the process of keeping track of weapons stockpiles as well as international arms sales.

The move should especially ease the sale of Russian arms to countries that belonged to the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact, who have since switched to NATO standards in the hope of joining the alliance, but still rely on Russian equipment.

Some 47 nations currently follow NATO standards in cataloguing their defense equipment -- everything from guns to fighter jets and missiles.

NATO officials attending Monday's signing ceremony suggested that Russia would first codify equipment that can be used in joint activities outlined by the new NATO Russia council: theater missile defense and joint sea search and rescue missions.

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