The Pentagon is reportedly studying Russian-made surface-to-air S-300s amid reports that Iran may be equipped with the defense system.
Reports have suggested that escalating Israeli threats against Iranian national security have prompted the Islamic Republic to seek the sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft system.
Tel Aviv alleges that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has plans to build a nuclear weapon.
While claiming that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Tel Aviv, Israeli officials argue that the use of military force is a legitimate option in halting the country’s nuclear progress.
According to the Kommersant-Ukraine daily, Ukrainian state arms exporter Ukrspetsexport has provided the US military with the 36D6 Tin Shield, a sophisticated radar used in the S-300 system.
The Pentagon, according to the paper, is interested in mastering the vulnerabilities and defense capabilities of the Tin Shield.
The 36D6 is a mobile radar system used as a reconnaissance and targeting system. It is highly effective in detecting low-, medium-, and high-altitude targets and is capable of moving in a broad speed range.
The Tin Shield, which enjoys high interference immunity under active and passive jamming conditions, allows the S-300 system to simultaneously track 100 targets 75 miles (120 km) away.
Officials in Tel Aviv have long lobbied to prevent Russia from selling the system to Iran. According to long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure, “If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran.”
Following the August conflict in the Caucasus, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Sallai Meridor, suggested Russia to be willing to provide the system to Iran but pleaded the Kremlin not to sell the system to the “adversaries” of Tel Aviv.
“We hope that, despite the events in Georgia, the Russians will not supply Iran with arms,” said Meridor after it was revealed that Israel provided weapons and intelligence, which were used against South Ossetia.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry in September denied reports that Tehran had acquired the S-300 system. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also commented on the issue in October, saying that Moscow would not sell the S-300 to countries ‘in volatile regions’.
According to Goure, should the Russian S-300 deal with Iran go through, “it could be the catalyst which would trigger Israel to launch a pre-emptive attack on [Iranian] nuclear sites”.
This is while a Sunday-leaked security assessment drawn up by Israeli military chiefs calls for the preparation of contingency plans for an attack on Iran, despite the common belief that a war with Tehran would push the US into another armed conflict in the Middle East.
The intelligence assessment indicates that Israel has a “limited” window of opportunity to act against Iran, raising fears that the Obama administration might lead up to the restoration of Washington-Tehran relations.
The Israeli call for military action comes after the release of the latest report on Tehran by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is the UN agency pertinent to the Iranian nuclear program.
The UN body says it has “been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”.
The agency, however, insists that unless Tehran increases its cooperation with the agency, the UN body “will not be able to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”.