Iran keeps quiet on S-300 for now

Iran says details on a potential S-300 deal with Russia will be released in due course, after the US warned Moscow against such agreement.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said Wednesday that Tehran would elaborate on the potential Russian sale of advanced surface-to-air missiles “when the occasion presents itself.”

He added that Iran would never hesitate in purchasing any leading-edge equipment that it deems necessary for its defense, while stressing that they would be made public when the time is right.

His remarks came a day after Washington pressed Russia to end confusion surrounding the delivery of the strategic S-300 system to Iran.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday that “this is not the time for business as usual with the Iranian government”.

In a Wednesday interview with IRNA, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believes that military cooperation with Tehran is the cornerstone of regional stability and would never allow other countries to stand in the way of their long-standing commitments.

Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport confirmed on Monday that it is supplying Iran with a number of defensive systems.

Although Rosoboronexport did not elaborate on whether the defensive apparatus include the sophisticated long-range S-300 missiles, it asserted that any Russian sale to Iran would be “solely of a defensive nature”.

“Russia is developing military-technical cooperation with Iran in strict compliance with its international commitments stemming from nonproliferation agreements. This cooperation cannot be a source of concern for third countries,” said the Monday statement.

Israel and the US oppose any such deal. Tel Aviv has taken measures to dissuade Russia from providing Iran with the S-300 system which, according to Israeli and American intelligence sources, would make Iran’s nuclear infrastructure inviolable in the face of an Israeli attack.

Pentagon consultant Dan Goure says the delivery of the system “scares every Western air force.” According to Goure, the report of S-300 delivery could prompt a premature Israeli air attack.

Israel has threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, claiming Iran is developing a military nuclear program. Tehran insists its program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology.

The UN nuclear watchdog has certified “the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”. It, however, urges the country to increase nuclear cooperation.