Iran has deployed Russian S-300 anti-missile batteries, which are believed to be one of the most effective defense systems in the world, to protect its nuclear enrichment facility in Fordow, state media reported Sunday.
Iran received a shipment of the weapons in April. Their delivery had been held up for several years by Russian President Vladimir Putin until Iran signed the nuclear deal with global powers last year.
General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Iran’s air defenses, boasted to the IRIB channel that “today, Iran’s sky is one of the most secure in the region.” He also stressed that Iran would protect its nuclear facilities in “all circumstances.” Esmaili’s promise to defend nuclear facilities is curious in this context, as the nuclear deal bans Iran from conducting uranium enrichment there for 15 years.
When the formerly-secret Fordow facility was discovered by satellite imagery in 2009, President Barack Obama said that it “underscores Iran’s continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements.” At the beginning of the public negotiations with Iran four years later, Obama said, “we know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.” Under the terms of the deal, Fordow is supposed to be converted into a research and technology facility, with around 1,000 functioning centrifuges that cannot be used on nuclear material.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed that the S-300 will be used for defensive purposes only. However, an analysis last year in The Daily Beast argued that the S-300 could also be used offensively to control the airspace of neighboring countries.
The delivery and deployment of the S-300 systems appear to be a violation of the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act, which imposes sanctions on nations and individuals that, as law sponsor Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) explained at the time, “knowingly and materially contribute to the efforts of Iran or Iraq to acquire destabilizing advanced conventional weapons.”
[Photo: PressTV ]