Putin Lifts Ban to Ship Missile Sytems to Iran; US, Israel Express Grave Concerns
By: Associated Press | April 14, 2015
its terror activities that it spreads in the Middle East and the entire world, it is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression.”
Israel has harshly criticized the U.S.-led nuclear deal, saying it would give Iran relief from sanctions while leaving its nuclear program largely intact. Israel believes Iran still intends to develop a nuclear weapon.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t specifically mention the Russian move Monday, but poured scorn on the proposed nuclear agreement, saying that “Iran draws encouragement from the concessions that it is receiving from the major powers.”
“It is a deal that leaves Iran in possession of the capability to arm itself with nuclear weapons, that fills its coffers with a lot of money and that not only enables it to continue its terrorism and aggression in the Middle East and around the world but does not even demand that it stop doing so,” he said.
Moscow’s plans to sell the S-300s to Iran long have been an irritant in Russia-Israeli relations. In recent years, Israel has refrained from providing sophisticated weapons to Georgia and Ukraine as part of an “understanding” with Russia that it not sell the s300s to Iran — a position that now may change.
Russian officials previously said that the specific model of the S-300 that Russia was to deliver under the 2007 contract is no longer produced, and offered Iran a modified version of it called S-300VM, or Antey-2500.
But instead of manufacturing new missile systems for Iran, Russia may provide some S-300s from its own military arsenals. In that case, the delivery may happen quickly.
In Tehran, Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan welcomed Russia’s decision to lift the ban. “The decision is the translation of political determination of leaders of both countries for improving and promoting cooperation levels in all fields,” Gen. Dehghan was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.
Back in 2010, Russia linked its decision to freeze the missiles’ delivery to the sanctions the United Nations Security Council imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, but Lavrov argued Monday that the Russian move was voluntary and not directly required by the UN resolutions.
“It was done in the spirit of good will in order to encourage progress in talks,” Lavrov said. “We are convinced that at this stage there is no longer need for such an embargo, specifically for a separate, voluntary Russian embargo.”
Iran responded to the Russian ban by filing a lawsuit with a court in Geneva seeking $4 billion in damages for breach of contract, but the court has not issued a ruling.
Lavrov said that Russia had to take into account “commercial and reputational” issues linked to freezing the contract.
“Because of the suspension of the contract, Russia has failed to receive significant funds,” he said. “We see no need to continue doing that.”
He added that Iran badly needs modern air defense systems because of a tense situation in the region, specifically in Yemen.