Iranian defense minister visits Russia to foster military ties

A precarious development in the Middle East? Russia and Iran are building stronger military and diplomatic ties.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Iran’s defense minister is visiting Moscow for talks over closer military cooperation with Russia.

Gen. Hossein Dehghan met Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin and also with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu hailed a “high level of mutual trust” between Moscow and Tehran and their readiness to coordinate policies.

The two defense ministers have signed an agreement to expand military ties between the two countries in January 2015. At the time, Shoigu declared that Moscow wanted to develop a “long-term and multifaceted” military relationship with Iran.

Russia and Iran both back Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Dehghan said in an interview with Russian state television that Tehran wants to expand military and technical ties with Russia.

Russia has a contract with Iran to deliver long-range S-300 air defense missiles, and Tehran also has expressed interest in other Russian weapons.

Jerusalem views the delivery of the S-300 batteries  with “grave concern.” The sale will “only encourage Iranian aggression in the region” and “further undermine the stability of the Middle East,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated after Russia announced the sale to Iran last November.

Dehghan said earlier this month that Iran plans to sign a deal with Russia for the purchase of Su-30 fighter jets.

He also announced during a recent television interview that Iran will sign a contract with Russia for the co-production of an undisclosed number of Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter aircraft, Fars News Agency reports.

Should the deal go through, Iran will be the second country in the world after India to produce a variation of the Su-30 fighter jet locally.

Russia’s Sputnik News reported on Monday that Iran plans to import Russian technology to produce the Russian T-90 tank.

Commander of the Iranian Ground Forces, Brigadier General Heydari Kiyumars, said that “Iran wants to take over the tank production technology along with its purchase,” noting that the Iranian Army cannot acquire military equipment without importing the technology pertaining to its production.