Russia: No S-300 Defense System for Iran

A02436312.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- 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, press tv reported.

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.

Israeli officials themselves have also commented on the issue, confirming that the system, once acquired by Iran, would complicate a potential attack on the ‘numerous, distant, and fortified’ nuclear sites in the country.

Tel Aviv and its staunch ally, the United States, have threatened to launch air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities under the pretext that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has plans to develop nuclear weapons.

This is while the UN nuclear watchdog in its latest report on Iran announced that it could not find any ‘components of a nuclear weapon’ or ‘related nuclear physics studies’ in Iran.

According to the September 15 report, Iran enriches uranium-235 to a level of below 5 percent – a rate consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

A GBU-39 bunker buster peneterating reinforced concrete
The Russian declaration that it will not supply Tehran with the S-300 defense system comes just weeks after Washington announced plans to sell 1,000 GBU-39 smart bombs to Israel.

The Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39), a bunker-buster bomb, has been developed to penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground – such as Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israel reportedly conducted a ‘dress rehearsal’ for an attack against the Islamic Republic in the first week of June.

The prodigious aerial maneuver was held 900 miles west of Israel off the southern Mediterranean island of Crete, roughly covering the distance from Israeli airfields to an Iranian uranium enrichment facility in Natanz.

According to Pentagon sources, the Israeli Air Force employed over a hundred F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, tactical bombers, refueling planes, and rescue helicopters to enact an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

Iran, however, has declared that it will not halt uranium enrichment and has begun intense defense preparations.

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.

An Iranian anti-ship C802 missile being fired from land
Iranian military officials have also warned that Tehran would not hesitate in taking the necessary measures to protect its sovereignty – including the closure of the Strait of Hormuz – in case the country comes under attack.

The strategically vital waterway, between Iran and Oman, connects the oil-rich region to high seas. As much as 40 percent of the world’s sea-transited crude oil passes through the strait.

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.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed openness to closer relations with the US in September. The two countries were in a war of words over Moscow’s intervention in the Georgian conflict in August.
“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.

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