Thursday, October 9, 2008

Moscow Says No S-300 SAMs to Iran

From Press TV:

Moscow rejects reports that it may arm Iran, saying it has no plan to equip Tehran with the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system.

"We have declared more than once at the very highest political level that we do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries located in regions that are, to put it mildly, unstable areas," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko on Thursday.

The Russian official added that the Kremlin makes decisions on selling such systems based on "both preserving the balance of power in the given region, and taking into account the need to provide stability and security in the region."

His remarks came after outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lobbied Russia against equipping Iran with the powerful S-300 defense system in his recent two-day visit to Moscow.

Russia has delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran under a $700 million (£386 million) contract signed in 2005.

Reports, however, began to surface as early as 2005 on the possibility of a deal on the delivery to Iran of S-300 defense systems that can complicate any aerial strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran. That could be a catalyst for Israeli air attacks before it is operational," long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure said in late August.

"This is a system that scares every Western air force," he continued.


In late September, dozens of Iranian fighter jets, surveillance planes, interceptor aircraft and radar drones took to the skies in a joint three-day military exercise.

The maneuvers also involved testing a surveillance network equipped with state-of-the-art systems for identifying enemy aircraft.

In mid-August, Iran's Air Force chief, Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani, announced that the country had revamped its fighter jet fleet to fly distances of 3,000 kilometers without refueling.

The upgrade allows Iranian aircraft to fly to Israel and back without needing to refuel.

In further preparations, the IRGC has recently equipped its navy fleet with high-tech weapons systems capable of targeting any vessel within a range of 300 km (185 miles) from its shores.

Should the S-300 system become operational in Iran, it would effectively rule out Israeli air raids and seriously complicate any US aerial bombings, according to George Friedman - the director of leading US private intelligence agency Stratfor.
"Back Georgia and Ukraine for NATO membership and you'll see the S-300 to Iran. It is a very powerful bargaining chip and a major deterrent to US actions in the region. Moscow is playing very strategically on America's obsession with Iran," he said in late August.

The recent announcement by Moscow coincides with Russian efforts to restore its relations with the United States and its European allies.

"This is not in the interests of our country's policy or the interests of preserving stability in one region or another of the world," affirmed the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday.

No comments: