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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Russia to delay delivery of S-300 to Iran?

Russia's Interfax, an independent news service, is reporting that Russia may delay the delivery of its S-300 air defense system to Iran. No time frame for the delay is given.
The implementation of a contract on
the delivery of Russian S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran could be postponed, a well-informed source in Moscow told Interfax on Tuesday.

"Such a possibility cannot be ruled out. A decision on this issue should be made at the political level, because the contract has moved outside the purely commercial framework," the source said.

"The relevant contract, which was signed with Iran in 2005, has yet to be carried out," the source noted.

According to earlier reports, the contract provides for the delivery of S-300PMU1 systems from the Russian Defense Ministry's stock. The Russian side has many stressed that this is a defensive system which is designed to protect crucial facilities from air strikes.

Russia earlier shipped Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference after talks with U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton in Geneva last week that Russia is "not violating anything in our military-technological cooperation with Iran, and at the same time we fully take into account all concerns expressed by our partners from the U.S. and Israel."

Russia supplies its partners with non-destabilizing defense weapons, he said.

Observers have said that the delivery of S-300 systems could have been discussed during the visit of Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar to Moscow last month; however, no changes in fulfilling the contract were reported. Analysts reported that the main deterrent to the deal is the possible improvement of Russian-U.S. relations which has been outlined recently.
Of course, there's no commitment ("such a possibility cannot be ruled out"), no real source for the story (a 'well-informed source') and no time frame for how long this 'delay' might last. But other than that, it sounds plausible, right?


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