Jerusalem Post — Sept 12, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, according to the prestigious Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.
The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Russian government will revive the transfer three years after it cancelled the original transaction.
According to Kommersant, the Kremlin agreed to Tehran’s request to complete the transaction, which will net the Russian treasury $800 million.
In addition to the missile deal, Russia has also agreed to construct another nuclear reactor in Bushehr. According to the Kommersant report, the two sides are expected to finalize the details of the deal this coming Friday, when Putin is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
Kommersant reported on Wednesday that the Russians intend on supplying Iran with a less advanced version of the S-300 than originally thought.
The Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft batteries have been a source of concern to Israeli officials who fear that their enemies’ possession of them could have adverse strategic consequences.
Last month, Russia suspended the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Syria. Russian newspaper Kommersant reported the shipping of the S-300 missile systems that were expected to be delivered by July 2014. The newspaper reported that the shipments were delayed until 2015-2016 because Damascus failed to provide payment for them.
Israeli official believe that the missiles, which have a 200-kilometer range, would have the capacity to hit planes in northern Israel. It would create a no-fly zone that would make it impossible for the Israeli air force to operate along the Syrian and Lebanese border.
Putin told Russia’s First Channel that some components of the S-300 systems were delivered to Syria, but that the rest would be delayed until Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime pays for them.
Additionally, a shipment of twelve MiG-29M/M2 jets ordered in 2007, six of which were due to be delivered to Syria by the end of the year, will not be supplied before 2016-2017 because Damascus has only paid Moscow 30 percent of the agreed sum for the jets.
In May, Israel and the US asked Russia not to deliver the weapons system to Syria, but Russia said the missiles are defensive and needed by Assad in his battle against rebel groups.