AFP – March 18, 2009
Russia will decide whether to deliver sophisticated S-300 air defence systems to Iran based on the "international situation," a government source here was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"The further implementation of the contract depends in large part on the developing international situation and the decision of the country's leaders," said the source in the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, which oversees Russian arms sales, quoted by Interfax and RIA-Novosti.
"The S-300 systems have not yet been delivered within the framework of the contract concluded two years ago," the source said.
Russia's plans to sell S-300 air defence systems to Iran have attracted criticism from the United States and Israel, both of which suspect Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Neither the United States or Israel has ruled out attacks on Iran's atomic facilities, which Tehran insists are intended only for peaceful purposes.
The Russian air defence facilities could potentially hinder such attacks.
Russian defence expert Ruslan Pukhov said the United States was clearly preparing a deal by which Russia would renounce its long-standing military ties with Iran in exchange for Washington dropping plans to place missile defence facilities in eastern Europe.
Moscow vehemently opposes the US missile shield plans.
"It's clear the United States is preparing a deal, suggesting to Russia that it renounce arms cooperation with Iran or limit it, in exchange for abandoning the missile defence shield in Europe," said Pukhov, who works at the Moscow-based Centre for Strategies and Technologies.
"This deal isn't at all fair as the Americans renounce their shield for domestic reasons but force us to renounce sales of arms to Iran practically without gaining anything in exchange," he said.
Last updated 20/03/2009