Israel to sabotage Iran 'game changer' deal
Press TV – October 5, 2008
Israel's outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, will lobby Russia against equipping Iran with the powerful S-300 defense system.
Expected in Russia on Monday, Olmert seeks to convince Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the sale of the advanced S-300 missile system would 'change the game' significantly.
Olmert will argue that the missile defense deal would 'upset the military-strategic balance in the Middle East', a senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Sunday.
The advance version of the S-300 system, the S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes within a range of over 150 km.
According to intelligence officials aware of S-300 defense capabilities, the surface-to-air system would effectively rule out an Israel-waged war against Iran.
"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure.
"This is a system that scares every Western air force," he adds.
Should the S-300 system become operational in Iran, it would effectively rule out Israeli air raids and seriously complicate any US aerial bombings, says George Friedman - the director of leading US private intelligence agency Stratfor.
Contrary to the findings of the UN nuclear watchdog, the US and Israel accuse Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons and have threatened to launch air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.
In its latest report on Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it could not find any 'components of a nuclear weapon' or 'related nuclear physics studies' in Iran.
While Israel continues preparations to launch air strikes against Iran, Washington has deployed an advanced radar facility in Israel's Negev desert over fears of Iranian retaliatory attacks.
The radar has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and is operated by a permanent 120-strong US Army staff.
To further prepare Israel for an act of aggression, the Pentagon has agreed to provide Tel Aviv with Guided Bomb Unit-39 bunker busters developed to penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground - such as Iran's nuclear complex in Natanz.
Speculation that Russia may provide Iran with the powerful S-300 system was fueled by remarks made by top Iranian and Russian officials.
"Contacts between our countries (on delivery of air defense systems) are continuing, and we do not see any reason to suspend them," Anatoly Isaikin, the head of Russia's main arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told a news conference in late September.
"Russia will provide Iran with the S-300 missile system under a deal signed between the two countries," Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said in December 2007.
Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile defense systems to Iran under a $US700 million deal.
Washington has also intervened in the issue, threatening to lobby against Moscow to prevent the country from joining the World Trade Organization if it continues to pursue what it calls 'authoritarian policies'.
"Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization is now in question. And so too is its attempt to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned in a speech at the transatlantic German Marshall Fund last month.
Russia, however, employed the issue of the recent Wall Street crisis to scoff at Washington, declaring the era of threats and domination to be over.
"The time of domination by one economy and one currency has been consigned to the past once and for all," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on October 2.
We have reached the era of "multipolarity, supremacy of the law and taking account of mutual interests," he added.
Last updated 08/10/2008