In an apparent reversal, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said that it would not deliver S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Iran in the “near future.”
The Times of Israel reported today:
Russia will not deliver the S-300 missile defense system to Iran in the near future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying on Thursday.
“I do not think that it is a matter of the near future. It is far more important that a political and legal decision has been taken to open up such an opportunity,” Ryabkov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Russia’s voluntary embargo on delivering the missile system to Iran is no longer needed due to progress in the resolution of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program. Lavrov was referring to the understanding reached in Lausanne between Iran and world powers earlier this month on a framework for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community.
Russia originally sold the air-defense missile systems to Iran in 2007. Following the 2010 passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which banned the shipment of most weapons to Iran, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a ban on shipping the S-300 to Iran, despite a loophole in the resolution that would allow them to transfer the surface-to-air missile systems. According to the Times, the 2007 contract was subsequently canceled and Russia returned the money to Iran.
Earlier this month, Russia announced that it was lifting its ban on the sale of the S-300 systems to Iran, raising fears that Iran could use the systems to protect its illicit nuclear program, or even possibly as an offensive weapon.
A similar deal to provide Syria with S-300 systems was cancelled by Russia last year, though some components of the system had already been shipped to Syria.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States military has the capability to penetrate S-300 systems.
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