The Kremlin’s official website announced Monday the Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree that lifts a ban on delivering S-300 missiles, which are one of the world’s most advanced air defense systems, to Iran. It is expected that Iran will get the missiles by the end of the year.
What’s more interesting is that the announcement comes just over a week after world powers negotiated a framework deal with Iran dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions that have crippled Tehran’s economy.
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You might be wondering why did they ban it in the first place? Well, let’s look into it. In 2007, Russia made a $800 million deal to provide several dozen S-300s and related systems to Iran. That move triggered the United States and Israel’s complains and worries that Iran would use these systems to protect its nuclear facilities.
And Russia… obeyed. It sounds like some kind of a miracle now. But Russia really did obey. In 3 years after making the deal with Iran, Russia signed a decree banning the delivery of any S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. Soon afterwards, Russia joined the West in its efforts to impose sanctions that put weapons embargo on Iran.
Although it’s worth mentioning that the decree to ban the deliveries was signed by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, not Putin.
US’ Military Actions Against Iran Will Become Ineffective
So what are those ultra-powerful missiles, exactly? Well, for starters, in 2013, Russia delivered this very defense system to Syria, which helped to deter Western intervention in the country.
What S-300 does is it detects and destroys aircraft within a range of about 93 miles and can bring down aircraft flying as high as 275 km, and missiles at a range of 150 km.
Although the most developed and high-end US aircraft would still be able to penetrate Iran’s air defenses, it’s “a complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it,” a senior US Marine Corps aviator told The Daily Beast.
Judging by the words of experts, thanks to Russia’s supplied S-300 missiles, any military actions against Iran would become highly ineffective. What’s even more dangerous is that it’s not going to just end with that. Russia and Iran, both being crippled by the West’s sanctions, are definitely seeking ways to ‘connect’. So there will most likely be more deals and cooperation between two countries.
Concerns Over The Missile Sale
Now, let’s refer to the US President Barack Obama’s words over a week ago, saying that “if Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.” Isn’t this Russian-Iranian missile cooperating suspicious enough to at least start ‘inspecting’?
As we all remember, the West promised to snap back sanctions if Iran is caught violating the terms of the recent nuclear agreement.
“We don’t believe it’s constructive at this time for Russia to move forward with this,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a news conference.
Furthermore, Harf added that Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the US government’s concerns over the recent decree during his phone call with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
However, there is an opinion that the deal might be a part of the Kremlin’s efforts to persuade world leaders to back the recently signed framework deal with Tehran.
The S-300 missile system “essentially makes Iran attack-proof by Israel and almost any country without fifth-gen [stealth fighter] capabilities. In other words, Iran, with the S-300, can continue to do what they want once those systems are in place without fear of attack from anyone save the US,” a senior Air Force commander told The Daily Beast.
That’s not surprising but Iran welcomed Russia’s announcement.
“The expansion of cooperation [with Russia] and improving cooperation with other neighboring countries in various fields can be very effective in establishing sustainable stability and security in the region,” Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said, according to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency.
Israel, which hosts one of the largest Russian expat communities in the world, was especially concerned over the Kremlin’s move.
“Even as Iran disavows article after article in the framework agreement that was announced last week, the international community is beginning to ease restrictions on it,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said in his statement. “This is the direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal being made with it.”
Although Lavrov said that the S-300 missile system “is of a purely defensive nature,” Steinitz is not so eager to believe in it.
“Instead of demanding that Iran desist from the terrorist activity that it is carrying out in the Middle East and throughout the world, it is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression,” Steinitz said.
Russia Will Build 8 Nuclear Power Units In Iran
In January, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Iran in order to sign a military cooperation deal with Tehran, which allowed for renewed missile deals between two countries as well as increased military cooperation and provisions for joint military drills.
According to the signed documents, the Kremlin plans to build eight nuclear power units with pressurized water reactors “turn-key ready” in Iran, four of which will be built at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.
Russia also vowed to provide nuclear fuel for the reactors during their entire life cycle.