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Medvedev bans sale of S-300 missiles, other weapons to Iran (Update 1)

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning the delivery of S-300 air defense systems and a host of other major arms to Iran, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning the delivery of S-300 air defense systems and a host of other major arms to Iran, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The ban, which includes battle tanks, armored vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, warplanes, military helicopters, ships and missiles, is part of measures Russia is taking to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chief of the Russian General Staff Army Gen. Nikolai Makarov said Russia would not deliver S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran as planned because such transfers are prohibited under UN sanctions.

Medvedev also banned entry to and transit via Russia for a number of Iranian nationals connected with the country's nuclear program, and banned Russian individuals and legal entities from rendering financial services if the services relate to Iran's nuclear activity.

Russia signed an $800 million contract on delivery to Iran of S-300 systems to equip at least five battalions in late 2007. The contract's implementation had so far been delayed. Experts are considering whether the missiles fall under the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council in June.

The sanctions include a ban on supplies of conventional arms to Iran. According to the document, "states are prohibited from selling or in any way transferring to Iran eight broad categories of heavy weapons (battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems)." However, the S-300 air defense systems are not included in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Israel and the United States have voiced concerns over Russia's plans to supply high-precision S-300 systems, capable of destroying aircraft at ranges of 150 km (90 miles) and at altitudes of up to 27 km (17 miles), to Iran. No such systems have been delivered to the Islamic Republic yet.

Commenting on Medvedev's decree to ban the sale of weapons to Iran, Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said: "If this decision was made, it was solely due to Russia's national security."

International pressure on Iran increased in early February when Tehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20 percent in lieu of an agreement on an exchange that would provide it with fuel for a research reactor. In June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran currently has some 2.8 metric tons of low enriched uranium and 22 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, according to the latest IAEA report. Experts say that these 22 kilograms are already enough to produce a nuclear bomb.

MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti)