WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russia’s decision to lift a five-year long embargo on deliveries of the S-300 air defense systems to Iran because of progress in the nuclear negotiations is untimely, experts told Sputnik.
“[The Russian announcement] could have been something they waited until after there is, hopefully, a comprehensive agreement,” Senior Associate of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut Yezid Sayigh said on Monday.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to lift a ban on the sales of S-300 air defense systems to Iran, according to a Kremlin press service statement.
Following the President’s decision, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the ban on the S-300 systems had become “obsolete” in light of the progress made by international mediators in negotiating parameters for Tehran’s nuclear program.
Russia’s announcement of the possible military sale may have aimed at sending a message to opponents of the nuclear deal, Sayigh went on. He described Moscow’s message as, “Do not think about going to the alternative, which is some kind of military action.”
Iran’s possession of the defensive missile system could signal that “military escalation is not a response,” Sayigh added, noting that the S-300 system would “make sure that no one tries to undertake offensive action.”
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Associate and Iran analyst Karim Sadjadpour told Sputnik “there are obvious concerns that this Russian action is premature.”
“The United States and Israel are going to be deeply concerned about this” potential Russian sale of the highly advanced surface to air missile system to Iran, Sadjadpour said.
Asked if the S-300 sale could possibly disrupt the P5+1 negotiations with Iran or the unified position of Russian and US negotiators, Sadjadpour explained that for the Obama administration the focus remains on “finalizing the deal.”
The possible S-300 sale creating greater military cooperation and stronger ties between Tehran and Moscow “are secondary, tertiary factors for them at the moment,” the expert said.
The Russian position on the Iranian missile sale could also be an international counterweight to the US Congress, Sayigh commented. Russian position may be signalling to the US Congress, “You are not the only people here, we can shift that balance as well,” he added.
This week, the US Senate will consider legislation that would subject any Iranian nuclear agreement to a vote of approval by the Congress.
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