Robert Johnson – Business Insider August 3, 2012
While the world went back and forth about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in 2002, Saddam Hussein was planning for the worst and did all he could to acquire a batch of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles.
Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, but the man had a pretty well-defined sense of self-preservation and knew the S-300s were all that stood between him and spending his final days in a “spider hole.”
Perhaps thinking it’s staring down a similar fate as Iraq, Iran has been doing everything it can to acquire the same missiles in the hope of developing the ability to thwart any potential attacks.
Tehran actually pinned down a deal to buy the highly capable missiles from Russia in 2007, but then president Dmitry Medvedev quashed the deal three years later citing UN sanctions prohibiting the exchange.
Iran obviously disagreed with the decision and took Russian defense contractor Rosoboronexport to international arbitration court in Geneva last April, and sued them for $900 million.
The court sided with Iran and not only granted it their requested damages, but tacked on another $4 billion fine for good measure.
Iran doesn’t want the money so much as it wants those S-300s, and has now come out saying it’ll forget all about the $4 billion if Russia simply agrees to fulfill its original contract.
The S-300 is the best anti-ballistic missile, anti-aircraft ordnance Russia has to offer and has enjoyed nearly 50 years of improvements and modifications. They’re what China has lined up along the no-nonsense Taiwan Strait.
They’re very effective, very hard to jam, and very difficult to stop. They’re reputed to be one of the most advanced “multi-target anti-aircraft missile systems in the world … [with] a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time.”
If Iran’s acquisition of the S-300s didn’t put the brakes on a possible attack scenario, it would certainly send military planners back to the drawing board to reconsider any eventual attack scenarios.
Forgiving the $4 billion may not be enough to spur Russia’s desire to do the deal, but if it actually finds itself abandoning its Syrian base in Tartus all bets may be off.
Russia is nearly as reluctant to see an attack on Iran as Tehran, and will likely do what it can to keep that from happening.
In the meantime, the pressure is building within Iran as a new round of deep and biting sanctions received approval from House and Senate negotiators Monday.
None of this is good news for the Iranian people who are already struggling to maintain their way of life and put a decent meal on the table.