Iran Rejects Reports about Replacing Russian S-300 with Tor Defense Systems

Fars News Agency — June 3, 2013

“The reports released on the replacement of S-300 with Tor missiles by Russia is strongly rejected,” Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli said Wednesday.

In relevant remarks in early June, Iran’s ambassador to Russia also underlined that Tehran has rejected Moscow’s proposal to provide the Islamic Republic with a substitute for the S-300 systems, which should have been delivered under a bilateral arms deal last year.

Mohammad Reza Sajjadi told Russia’s RIA Novosti that the proposed substitute, the Tor anti-aircraft system, “would be unable to fulfill the S-300’s functions” within Iran’s national defense system.

Meantime, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday expressed the hope that the dispute between Tehran and Moscow over the delivery of the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems would be settled soon.

“Our colleagues are holding negotiations in this regard and I hope that the issue will be settled in a good manner,” Ahmadinejad said, addressing a number of Russian elites and academics in Moscow on Tuesday.

“I see a very good future for cooperation (between Iran and Russia) and no event can prevent the expansion of this cooperation,” he added.

Iran was initially interested in the S-300 missile complexes, signing in 2007 a contract worth $800 million for five missile defense systems of this make.

But the deal was scrapped in 2010 by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was unilaterally expanding on sanctions against Iran imposed by the UN Security Council.

Iran filed a $4bln lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva, which is currently pending review.

Moscow has struggled to have the lawsuit dropped, including by offering the Tor anti-aircraft systems as replacement, media reported earlier this month, adding that the offer was rejected by Tehran.

In a recent development, Moscow made a new attempt to dodge the $4bln lawsuit from Tehran by offering another type of air defense system to Iran.

The new offer on the table is Antei-2500, AKA S-300VM, or SA-23 Gladiator in NATO nomenclature, the Kommersant Daily said, citing unnamed sources in the Russian arms trade industry.

The missile defense system can simultaneously destroy up to 24 aircraft within the range of 200 kilometers or intercept up to 16 ballistic missiles.

The deal can be formalized during the visit of outgoing President Ahmadinejad to Moscow, an unnamed Iranian diplomat told Kommersant.

The Antei-2500, however, may be a better solution. The system does not formally fall under the existing sanctions against Iran while still being useful for the Middle-Eastern country.

While the S-300 was developed for the use by missile defense forces, the Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force.

Russia is already exporting the Antei-2500, having delivered two missile systems to Venezuela earlier this year. India and Turkey were also named as potential buyers, though no deals were formalized so far, RIA Novosti reported.

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