Iran and Russia are moving ahead with the S-300 missile defense system sale as sanctions on Iran crumble to the wayside.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Iran and Russia have reportedly made progress in talks on the sale of the Russian S-300 missile defense systems to the Islamic Republic.
“Negotiations on the delivery of the S-300 to Iran have been successful,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday during a press conference after a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow, Iran’s PressTV reports.
Amir-Abdollahian stressed that all issues surrounding the delivery are progressing well and will be carried out at “the soonest opportunity possible.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree in April paving the way for the delivery. The decision was made after Iran and the P5+1 powers reached an initial framework agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program in Lausanne in April.
Russia signed the $800-million contract to sell the S-300 missile system to Iran in 2007, but suspended delivery in 2010 due to strong objections from the US and Israel.
Putin defended the Kremlin’s decision to supply Iran with the S-300 – one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, designed to intercept aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles – claiming that it is meant for defense.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Russia, saying that Jerusalem views the decision with “grave concern.” The sale will “only encourage Iranian aggression in the region” and “further undermine the stability of the Middle East,” he explained.
If Iran does in fact obtain the surface-to-air missiles, an aerial attack by the US or Israel would become a much more complex and dangerous task, experts say.
Speaking in an interview on MSNBC in April, US President Barack Obama said he opposed the sale, but was not worried about its effects on a military operation against Iran. “Our defense budgets are just a little bit under $600 billion. Theirs [Iran’s] is a little over $17 billion,” Obama said. “Even if they have some air defense systems, if we had to, we could penetrate them.”
Sanctions on Iran Collapsing
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated in April that sanctions on Tehran’s economy are on the verge of complete collapse and that no country would ever again have the power to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic.
Following the Kremlin’s announcement on the weapons sales, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed statements by a Russian diplomat that Moscow was already supplying Iran with various goods in exchange for oil. Peskov claimed this trade was not barred under the sanctions order imposed by the UN Security Council.
Reports have been circulating regarding European businessmen lining up to establish ties the moment that sanctions on Iran are officially lifted.