Earlier today, Russia made a significant step toward supplying Iran with an advanced missile defense system by lifting a 2010 self-imposed ban.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2007, Iran had signed a deal with Russia worth nearly $800 million in which Russia was to supply Iran with an S-300 missile defense system. The deal looked set to go through up until 2010 when Russia eventually caved to international pressure applied firmly by the U.S. and Israel. The applied pressure resulted in a presidential degree from Dmitry Medvedev, canceling the deal and the application of a ban on any further Russian/Iranian missile deals.
Now, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia will allow itself to once again supply Iran with missile defense systems. This Russian presidential announcement comes on the heels of extensive summit talks led largely by the U.S. aimed at wooing Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Part of the strategy to convince the Iranian government to forgo its nuclear ambition has been to promise the removal of international sanctions.
Fox News reported the following.
“Monday’s developments follow the interim deal between Iran and several world powers — including the U.S. and Russia — to lift sanctions on Iran if it limits its nuclear program. Western nations suspect Iran’s nuclear aspirations were aimed at developing an atomic weapons capability. Iran insists the program is for purely peaceful purposes.”
In a recent press conference, acting State Department spokesperson Marie Harf revealed the U.S.’s concerns regarding Iran potentially receiving a missile defense system.
“We think given Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region in places like Yemen and Syria or Lebanon, this isn’t the time to be selling these kinds of systems to them.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the S-300 missile defense system is “a mobile, long-range system that can detect and destroy ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and low-flying aircraft.”
Russia’s stated reasoning behind lifting its ban was basically “because we can.” According to Russian officials, because the ban was self-imposed, it was free to repeal it whenever it saw fit. The same Russian officials revealed that it was their impression that supplying Iran with the S-300 missile defense system posed no real threat to any governments in the area. Israel tends to disagree.
Israel Intelligence Minister, Yuval Steinitz stated, “It’s proof that the economic momentum that will come for Iran after lifting sanctions will be exploited for an arms buildup and not for the welfare of the people of Iran.”
Such a willingness to sell an advanced missile defense system to such a contested country — especially in light of recent international talks — seems to demonstrate a Russian acceptance of continued international tension.
[Image credit to Enemy Forces]