Yesterday, Russia confirmed that it will sell S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, however, without announcing a precise delivery date AFP reports.
“The decision on delivering S-300 to Iran has been taken but the realization of the project will take some time. As I understand, the time of delivery has not come yet,” the deputy head of the Russian Security Council, Yevgeny Lukyanov, was quoted by Russian agencies as saying.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a degree that lifted a self-imposed Russian ban on the sale of sensitive defense systems to Iran (see: “These Russian Missiles Will Make Bombing Iran Riskier”).
The lifting of the Russian weapons embargo came after the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran agreed on a landmark outline deal over Tehran’s nuclear program on April 2, in Lausanne, Switzerland. For President Putin, the Lausanne agreement illustrated that Iran is “demonstrating very high flexibility and clearly wishes to reach a compromise on this nuclear program.”
Back in June 2010, Russia cancelled the delivery of the missiles and stopped all military-technical cooperation with Tehran due to a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions — which included a ban on the sale of hi-tech weapons. In return, Iran demanded $4 billion in compensation from Moscow.
This issue appears to have been resolved now, although Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated yesterday that the agreement is still being finalized, according to AFP.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, however, was optimistic about a quick delivery: “The negotiations on the subject have ended in success. I estimate that the S-300 delivery will take place in quite a short time (…) it will be done at the soonest opportunity possible.” According to some media reports, the missiles could be delivered by year’s end.
As I have reported previously (see: “Russia and Iran Sign Military Cooperation Agreement”), Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, signed an intergovernmental agreement on “long term and multifaceted” military cooperation in Tehran, Iran on January 20 of this year.
Back in January 2015, both ministers also agreed to settle their differences once and for all regarding the sale of five S-300PMU-1/SA-20 Gargoyle SAM systems (40 launchers) to Iran for $800 million. The S-300PMU1 is a long range, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system, “designed to engage aircraft, cruise missiles and theater ballistic missiles in intense clutter and jamming environment,” according to deagel.com. Russia has repeatedly declared that the S-300 air defense missile systems are exclusively defensive.