Israel urges Russia not to sell missiles to Iran

An Israeli envoy urged Russia on Friday not to sell weapons to Iran that could be used to attack the Jewish state, a news agency reported.

The Interfax news agency quoted Israeli Defense Ministry envoy Amos Gilad as saying Israel expects Russia to respect his country’s interests.

“The deliveries of dangerous armaments to our enemies won’t serve the interests of peace and, for instance, can help Iran wipe Israel off the face of earth,” Gilad was quoted as saying. “So we expect Russia to demonstrate responsibility on the issue.”

Gilad, who was visiting Moscow, was responding to a question about possible deliveries of Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.

Some Russian media have claimed that a deal has already been struck to sell the missiles, but Russian officials have denied it.

Russia has previously sold Tor-M1 air-defense missiles and other weapons to Iran in deals criticized by the U.S. and Israel. The long-range S-300 is a much more advanced weapon that would make any potential Israeli strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities more difficult.

Israel, the United States and much of the international community believe that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its uranium enrichment program is intended solely for civilian energy needs.

Russia has maintained close ties with Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant, which is expected to go on line next year. Russia has backed limited U.N. sanctions against Iran, but has staunchly resisted the U.S. push for harsher measures.

According to Interfax, Gilad denied allegations that Russia and Israel had struck a secret deal under which Israel would abstain from selling weapons to Georgia and Russia wouldn’t sell weapons to Iran.

He added, however, that Israel would take Russia’s interests into account. “And we expect a similar approach from Russia,” he was quoted as saying.

In recent months, Israel has done its best to make Russia happy. It has distanced itself from Georgia, announcing even before Georgia’s August war with Russia that it was cutting weapons sales to Tbilisi. Israel later further restricted defense contacts and even instructed defense consultants not to visit the Caucasus nation.

Russia’s top military officer said this week that Moscow is negotiating with Israel to buy a batch of spy drones in what would be its first ever purchase of military hardware from the Jewish state.