Iranian Revolutionary Guards Trained on S-300 Air Defence Systems at Russian bases

News Brief – January 6, 2011

Although not exactly breaking news this is nonetheless significant in view of mounting tensions between the U.S., Israel and Iran. For in May 2010 Israel’s DEBKAfiles reported that Iranian Revolutionary Guards crews were being trained at Russian bases to operate the advanced S-300 missile systems.
Described as a “game-changer” the S-300 is thought to be capable of fending off US or Israeli air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Although Russia and Iran originally agreed on the sale in 2007 delivery was delayed following pressure from the U.S. and Israel.
Thereafter, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman announced that Russia would not be selling the S-300 system to Iran.
However in early May 2010 Western intelligence is reported to have discovered that Iranian Revolutionary Guards S-300 crews were training at Russian missile bases. When Israeli president Shimon Peres raised the issue during talks with President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow later that month, he was told sharply that no other government could tell Russia to whom it may give military training.
The White House was worried enough to send the president’s nuclear adviser to tell reporters: “The United States has made clear to Russia that delivering a promised advance air defense system to Iran would have serious implications on US-Russian relations.”
This warning for Moscow met with an equally abrupt answer however. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was with President Medvedev in Ankara at the time, responded that Moscow needs “no advice from across the ocean” over the sale of the S-300.
The fact that it may have had trained crews ready to man the S-300 strengthened Iran’s hopes that the missile system would eventually be delivered.
So when its aerospace forces seized control of an American RQ-170 flying over Iran Tehran had a trump card with which to deal.  
Thereafter Iran is reported to have allowed Russian and Chinese experts access to the unmanned drone conditionally. According to Israeli website DEBKAfiles, one of those conditions was that Russia complete the delivery of its S-300 system to Iran.
As Sherman Skolnick was wont to say: stay tuned!

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