Progress in talks on sale of advanced Russian S-300 to Iran
debkafile‘s military sources report that defense minister Mostafa Najar and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov are making good progress in the talks they began Tuesday, Feb. 17 on the sale of advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles to Iran. Both sides agreed it was essential to provide Iran’s Bushehr reactor with an effective system against air and missile attack.
The reactor is scheduled to start functioning in a couple of months after Moscow promised to finish work on the plant on time. Aware that Bushehr might be targeted in any attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, Moscow means to provide full protection for the Bushehr reactor as the finest product of Russian nuclear technology and a windfall for Russian exports.
Western military sources say the Moscow talks are refining a formula to enable Iran to deploy the S-300 batteries guarding Bushehr at its other nuclear sites as well. They noted that the Russian defense minister made a big deal of the Bushehr transaction as a symbol of the close ties between Moscow and Tehran.
In Paris, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei complained Iran “is right now not providing any access, any clarification with regard to the whole area of possible military dimensions.” They are not following the Security Council’s request, he said, to allow us to “please clarify this issue.”
In Tehran, Iran’s deputy defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi announced that Iran had begun producing advanced fighter jets as well as unmanned aerial vehicles claimed to have an operational range of 1,000 km.
debkafile‘s Washington and Jerusalem sources recall that prime minister Vladimir Putin in his previous role as Russian president personally assured the US and Israeli governments more than once that he would never release the lethal S-300 missiles to Iran. Their acquisition would make an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities extremely difficult and dangerous.
Washington sources believe that the Kremlin is about to comply with Iran’s request in order to turn the heat on the Obama administration for a final decision to waive plans to install an American missile shield in East Europe.