Russia denies selling missile system to Iran

Russia is not selling Iran an advanced air-defense system, Russia’s agency for monitoring international defense cooperation said in a statement on Monday, refuting claims by an Iranian official reported Sunday that the system was already being delivered.

“Military-technical cooperation with Iran is conducted on a planned basis corresponding with agreements signed earlier and in observance of all international obligations,” the agency, the Federal Military and Technical Cooperation Service, said in a statement posted on its Web site.

“Information that has appeared in several media outlets about deliveries of the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran does not correspond to reality,” the statement said.

The S-300, called the SA-20 in the West, is a surface-to-air missile system that can track aircraft and fire at them from more than 100 miles away.

Iran’s IRNA news agency on Sunday quoted the Iranian official, Esmail Kosari, deputy head of Parliament’s Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Security, as saying, “After a few years of talks with Russia, now the S-300 system is being delivered.”

Russia’s main weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, said in a statement on Monday that Russia supplies Iran only with defensive weapons and weapons systems, including the Tor-M1 anti-aircraft system.

“Russia conducts military-technical cooperation with Iran in strict compliance with the international commitments of the Russian Federation according to current non-proliferation regimes, and cannot be a source of concern for other countries,” the statement on the company’s Web site says.

In September, amid reports that a deal on the sale of the weapons system was near, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, denied that Russia would sell the missile system to Iran. “We do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries in the region,” he was quoted as saying in the semiofficial Fars news agency of Iran.

Israeli officials have long lobbied to prevent Russia from selling the system to Iran. On Sunday, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said a senior Russian official had told Israel that the new report about delivery of the S-300 was false. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel asked the Kremlin this autumn not to go ahead with the sale.

In the IRNA report on Sunday, Kosari referred to Israeli efforts to prevent the arms sale, saying that Israel could not damage relations between Russia and Iran.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/22/africa/23iran.php