Iran to Russia: Take $14bn and build us a modern army

Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan arrived in Moscow this week at the head of a large military delegation and laid before President Vladimir Putin and his Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu a $14 billion check. Now, make our Revolutionary Guards Corps and regular forces into an up-to-the-minute war machine, he said.

The plan to make over and upgrade Iran’s military was first approved by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is to be paid for with funds released by newly lifted sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The ayatollah aspires to rebuild the two branches – the IRGC with 150,000 troops and the regular army of 420,000 – as the most powerful armed force in the Middle East.

The fee on offer to Moscow covers the best-quality arms purchases and the foundation of a wide-ranging military industry for turning out Iran’s requirements of warplanes, tanks and other high-grade systems.

The entire project as presented to Russian leaders is estimated to unfold over 10 years, during which relations between Tehran and Moscow should grow progressively stronger.
However, according to informed Western military sources, the Iranian scheme is unrealistic. The Russian army and its defense ministry are not capable of meeting all of Iran’s military requirements for the next decade, even if its entire production output is set aside for this purpose. Russia is deeply immersed in two major wars in Ukraine and Syria. It is hard pressed to keep up with its own military needs, as well as with commitments undertaken under existing international arms contracts with China and India.

Iran’s shopping list is vast and formidable, as revealed here by debkafile’s intelligence sources.  It is topped by highly advanced ballistic missile technology, together with the special metals the Russians have developed for upgrading their own missiles and their engines.

Other items are:

  • Advanced SU-30 and SU-35 fighter-bombers
  • Spy planes, especially the latest model of the Tu-214R intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that was posted last week in Syria
  • Submarines and different types of warships including missile ships
  • A large number of the top-of-the-line T-90 tank as standard equipment for both branches of the Iranian military. The Russians are to build factories for its production in Iran
  • The latest armored personnel carriers
  • MRLS rocket launchers of diverse calibers
  • Heavy, self-propelled artillery

Tehran appears to have taken Russian consent to this giant transaction as a given and regime officials are already enthusing over the “Russian weapons revolution” about to overtake its military. President Putin was quoted as agreeing in principle to the transaction, although he proposed first setting up a Russian-Iranian military team for examining the items on order and its financial aspects. Its conclusions would then be submitted to the decision making authorities of both governments before implementation goes ahead.

Commenting on these negotiations, a US official stressed Friday, Feb. 19, that the UN embargo on arms sales to Iran, embodied in the nuclear deal Iran signed with the six world powers last year, remains in force for five years.

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