Russia announced that it would deliver S-300 surface to air missile systems to Iran after the two countries finally sealed an agreement.
The Russian government stopped an earlier deal with the Iranian government to deliver missile systems due to the UN sanctions imposed against the Middle Eastern country due to its nuclear program.
In a statement, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Rostec, a Russian state-owned corporation confirmed that Russia and Iran signed the contract for the delivery of S-300 missile system.
“The contract on delivery of S-300 to Iran has not only been signed by the sides but has already entered into force,” said Chemezov. The schedule of the delivery for the missile system is still uncertain.
The Iranian government expects to receive the system early this year. However, Russian officials suggested that the actual delivery might take longer than expected.
Iran expected to drop a lawsuit against Russia
In 2007, Russian and Iran signed a contract worth approximately $800 million for the delivery of S-300 missile systems. However, Moscow did fulfill its contract due to pressures from Israel and the United States.
Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit against Russia at the International Arbitration Court in Geneva in connection with the cancelation of the contract.
Chemezov believed that Iran will abandon its lawsuit against Russia “once the first part of the contract was fulfilled.”
Russia lifted its self-imposed ban on the sale of weapons systems to Iran in April, before Iran reached a nuclear deal with the Western powers.
U.S. and its allies are concerned
The United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia criticized Moscow’s decision because it was done before the UN Security Council lifted the sanctions against Tehran.
The Russian government argued the missile system does not fall under the sanctions because it is exclusively defensive.
The United States and its allies are concerned with the delivery of the missile defense system to Iran because it could undermine their military advantage in the Middle East.
The United States is still confident wit its military capability despite its concerns about the sale of the Russian S-300 missile systems to Iran.
Peter Cook, the spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, said, “We have long expressed our concerns over reports on this possible sale…but this is something we have been tracking and in general, we are confident in our capabilities, even if that system is sold.”
Arieh Herzog, a former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Program commented. The nature of deployment in Iran would be defensive and trying to prevent the capability of our air force to operate there as it may be capable of operating today. There will be a dramatic change in their capability and it does not create a reasonable environment for any operation of our air force.”
Herzog added that Israel is also concerned about the possibility that the powerful systems could fall into the hands of Islamic State since Iran is an ally of Syria.
In April, the Iranian government showed the Bavar 373, which is scheduled to be deployed in March 2017.
Chemezov said Saudi Arabia asked Rostec repeatedly not to deliber the S-300 systems to Iran. He insisted that the Gulf countries have no reason to feel threatened because it is a defensive weapon.
He said, “So if the Gulf countries are not going to attack Iran. Why should they be threatened? This is defense equipment.” He added that Russia is in talks with Saudi Arabia regarding its more advanced missile defense system, the S-400.
He said, “There is a renaissance in our relations with the country. I hope these talks will lead to the signing of contracts.”
Tehran is planning to develop a missile defense system before 2017, using Russia’s S-300 missile system.
Russia in talks with Iran on military-technical cooperation
Russia has been a long-time supplier of air defense systems and different types of radio electronics to Iran. Both countries are currently negotiating to enter into military-technical cooperation, according to Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-run weapons exporter.
In an interview with Rossiya-25 television, Rosoboronexport Director General Anatoly isaykin said, “The list of weapons prohibited to be delivered to Iran does not apply to a number of arms, including air defense systems, several types of radio electronics. The Russian Federation through Rosoboronexport is maintaining contacts exactly in these areas and delivering exactly these types of weapons to Iran.”