Russia to reconsider missile sale to Iran

Discussion in 'Iran' started by Sunni Man, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Sunni Man

    Sunni Man Diamond Member

    Aug 14, 2008
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    MOSCOW – Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the Kremlin has promised to reconsider the planned delivery of powerful air defense missiles to Iran.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the pledge during their talks Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Peres said.

    "President Medvedev gave a promise he will reconsider the sales of S-300s because it affects the delicate balance which exists in the Middle East," Peres told reporters via video link from Sochi.

    A Russian official familiar with the talks confirmed that Peres raised the issue, "but no specific contracts or obligations of Russian organizations concerning supplies to Iran of military equipment came under discussion on the presidential level," the official said.

    "While raising the issue, (Peres) underlined that Israel has no military plans against that country. In particular, he said Israel is not planning any strikes on the territory of Iran," he said on condition of not being further identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    Russia has signed a contract to supply the powerful S-300 missiles to Iran, but has dragged its feet on delivering them.

    Israel and the United States fear that Iran could use the missiles to protect its nuclear facilities — including the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz or the country's first atomic power plant, which is being completed by Russian workers in Bushehr. That would make a military strike on the Iranian facilities much more difficult.

    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak insisted last month that Israel would not rule out any response to the Iranian nuclear program — an implied warning that it would consider a pre-emptive strike to thwart Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

    Israeli and U.S. officials have strongly urged Moscow not to supply the missiles, and the issue has been the subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for years.

    Israel wants Russia, which has close ties with Iran, to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. Iran, whose president has expressed hatred of Israel, maintains its nuclear program is only designed to provide more electricity. Israel, the U.S. and other nations fear that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

    Moscow has supported limited U.N. sanctions on Iran, but opposed efforts by the U.S. and others to impose tougher measures.

    "President Medvedev told me that Russia will not support an Iranian nuclear bomb under all circumstances," Peres said. "But he also mentioned that the Russian appreciation of what's taking place in Iran is different from the American one."

    Russian officials confirmed in March that a contract for the S-300 missiles had been signed with Iran two years ago, but a top Russian defense official said in April that no deliveries had been made yet.

    Analysts said that Moscow could be using the S-300 contract as a bargaining chip in its relations with the U.S. and Israel.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009

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