Explaining why the US objects to the sale, Kirby agreed that the system is defensive, but said "it's nonetheless a surface-to-air missile system and it’s not an insignificant military capability."
Accusing Iran of conducting "nefarious activities and supporting terrorism around the region," Kirby added, "I don’t know why we wouldn’t object to it."
"The nuclear deal is separate and distinct from our concern about Iran’s nefarious activities in the region."
Though Kirby agreed that the transfer of the defensive system to Iran is not prohibited under UN Security Council resolutions, he stated that the US "needs to know more about the specifics of this proposed transfer to determine whether any domestic US sanction programs may be implicated should a sale or transfer proceed."
A Department of Defense official asked by Fox News to characterize the capability of the S-300 air defense system explained fears in the US that "this is a very capable weapons system that can bring down US or Israeli jet aircraft."
On April 13 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to allow the sale of the S-300 to Iran, which overturned a previous decree signed in 2010 by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that stopped the delivery of the system.
That decree was passed in the aftermath of a UN Security Council resolution from June 2010 that imposed further sanctions on Iran in connection with its nuclear program.
"Today our Iranian partners demonstrate great flexibility and desire to reach a compromise…that's why we have taken this decision," President Putin explained in April of this year.
Commenting on the lifting of the ban, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "We have to take into account the commercial and reputational aspect. As a result of stopping the contract, Russia did not receive a great deal of resources which are due to us."
On Tuesday, Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told a press conference that a revised contract for four S-300 systems is expected to be signed by the two countries in the coming weeks, as a result of which Iran will drop the lawsuit, and soon take delivery of the S-300.