Libyan defense minister Younis Jaber arrived in Moscow Tuesday, Jan. 26 to sign a $2 billion military acquisitions deal that makes his country the first in the Middle East to obtain the top-of-the-line S-300 PMU-2 interceptors which Russia is holding back from Iran.
debkafile's military sources report that Tripoli has purchased two brigades of four missile batteries each, conditional on their delivery by the end of 2010.
Although a three-way deal for the supply of S-300 missile-air interceptors to Syria for transfer to Iran (which foots the bill) has been signed, Russian leaders are holding back on its implementation in response to US and Israeli pressure. Tehran hoped that Director of the National Security Council Saeed Jalili would clinch an agreed timeline for delivery during his three-day Moscow trip starting Tuesday, Jan. 26. But when Moscow said that the time was still not ripe for the missile's handover, although it is the missing key component from the defenses of Iran's nuclear facilities, Tehran cancelled Jalili's trip at the last minute.
Iranian leaders were further incensed by being beaten to the post by Libya. At a recent military hardware fair in Bahrain, Iran noted that sales agents of the Russian Rosoboronexport openly touted S-300 PMU-2 systems promising would-be buyers their early supply.
Regarding additional unfinished business between Moscow and Tehran, Jalili and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom state nuclear corporation, stressed recently that the unfinished Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr would finally go on line before the end of this year after endless delays.
Monday, Kiriyenko came out with the bombastic statement: "2010 would be the year of the Bushehr reactor."
But after being burned many times, Tehran is shy of Russian promises and wants an exact timeline for the reactor's completion.
The Russian-Libyan military transaction also provides for 15 long-range Su-35 bombers, at least 8 Su-30MK2 fighter-bombers, as well as 50 T-90 tanks and Russian upgrades of Libya's T-72 fleet.