Sunday, December 21, 2008

Iran Says Russian S-300 Systems Are Already Being Delivered

Arutz Sheva
by Gil Ronen
December 21, 2008

( Russia has begun delivering S-300 air defense systems to Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. The systems are among the most advanced in the world and could enable Iran to prevent a strike on its nuclear sites.

"After few years of talks with Russia ... now the S-300 system is being delivered to Iran," IRNA quoted Ismail Kosari, deputy head of parliament's Foreign Affairs and National Security committee, as saying. Kosari did not say when the deliveries began and Iran's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report. He added that the system would be deployed throughout Iran and would "meaningfully strengthen" the country.

Last week Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau, visited Moscow and expressed Israel's opposition to the deal. Gilad urged Russia on Friday not to sell the S-300 to Iran.

"The deliveries of dangerous armaments to our enemies won't serve the interests of peace and, for instance, can help Iran wipe Israel off the face of earth," Gilad was quoted as saying. "So we expect Russia to demonstrate responsibility on the issue."

The S-300 is a multi-target anti-aircraft-missile system with a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.

Gilad: no secret deal. According to Interfax, Gilad denied allegations that Russia and Israel had struck a secret deal under which Israel would abstain from selling weapons to Georgia and Russia wouldn't sell weapons to Iran.

He added, however, that Israel would take Russia's interests into account. "And we expect a similar approach from Russia," he was quoted as saying.

Sergei Court exchanged for a promise?In May 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Moscow and presented a part of the Sergei Compound in Jerusalem as a gift to Moscow, in return for what seemed like a promise by Moscow to refrain from arming Iran and Syria. The Russians said at the time that they would not be selling weapons to countries in "unstable regions."

However, a Russian defense official was quoted last week as saying that arms sales to Iran actually created regional stability. The article, which was published Wednesday by the RIA Novosti news agency, quoted Alexander Fomin, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying that weapons sales to Iran "have a positive impact on stability in this region."

He later told The Jerusalem Post that he had not been referring to the sale of the S-300 system.

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