debkafile Reports: Moscow pushes ahead in Bushehr after US sanctions threat to Russian Tor-M1 system suppliers
In Tehran this week, Russian security chief Igor Ivanov promised the work would go forward and be completed on schedule in September, 2007. He also pledged that fuel that could double for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, held back till now, would be released no later than March. Until now the Russians have been going slow on the reactor they had contracted to build at Bushehr on the Gulf coast of southwestern Iran and were refusing to release the fuel.
Tehran had also accused Moscow of supplying outdated technology to some parts of the reactor and cut off payments for this and other economic transactions.
debkafile‘s Moscow sources report that president Vladimir Putin decided to settle the dispute with Tehran after learning from Washington that US sanctions were to be clamped down on Russian military industrial firms supplying Iran with the advanced Tor-M1 anti-missile missile systems for guarding Iranian nuclear installations. The new weapon was meant to deter US and Israel from taking military action against Iran’s nuclear industry.
Our military sources report that Tehran put the new Tor-M1 systems through their paces for the first time in a missile exercise that took place in central Iran on Jan-22-25. It was led by the Revolutionary Guards missile unit commander Brig. Gen. Majid Ayine. The home-made Zelzal and Fajr-5 missiles, officially announced as the objects of the exercise, were in fact used to simulate American or Israeli missiles coming in for attacks on nuclear sites and RG bases. They tested the Tor-M1’s ability to destroy them before they struck.
Present at the exercise were missile experts of the Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, there to advise Iran on how to integrate the new Tor-M1 systems in their air defenses.
The extent of Moscow’s assistance for Iranian efforts to repel an American attack incensed the Bush administration. State department spokesman Sean McCormack intimated that the sale of the Tor-M1 to Iran was a violation of UN Security Council sanctions. “There are many legitimate acts,” he said, “that should force the international community to review the selling of Russian systems for the anti-missile defenses of Tehran.”
Putin’s instant response to Washington’s move was to dispatch Ivanov to Tehran with promises to satisfy Iran’s complaints.