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    An S-300 surface-to-air missile system

    US Raises Fears of Russia-Iran S-300 Defense Deal

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    The White House said on Tuesday that though Russia's sale of the S-300 missile system to Iran does not violate UN Security Council resolutions, it still objects to the deal, and is determining whether to respond with a domestic program of sanctions.

    Despite acknowledging that Russia's sale of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran contravenes neither UN Security Council resolutions, nor the plan of action agreed by Iran with the P5+1, White House press spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing on Tuesday that the US has objections to the deal.

    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." 

    When it was put to the spokesman that Iran, in the context of its agreement and adherence to the nuclear deal agreed with the P5+1, has a legitimate right to equip itself with defensive weapons, Kirby replied that the US "has legitimate concerns that those kinds of systems could end up being used for other purposes or in the hands of other people."

    "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."

    A S-300 missile launch.
    © Sputnik/ Mihail Mokrushin
    A S-300 missile launch.
    Russia and Iran had negotiated the sale of five of the long-range air defense systems in 2007, at a cost of around $900 million. As a result of Russia's decision not to complete the sale, Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit in the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva. 

    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.

    Related:

    Lavrov, Zarif Could Discuss S-300 Deliveries to Iran During Monday's Talks
    Russia to Deliver Modernized Version of S-300 Air Defense System to Iran
    Iran Expects New S-300 Deal With Russia by End of Next Week
    Tags:
    arms export, arms delivery, sanctions, S-300, S-300 air defense system, Iran, United States, Russia
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