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MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. S-300 air defense systems Russia is going to supply to Iran are a purely defensive weapon, so the international community should feel no worries over security in the Middle East, polled experts have told TASS.
On Monday, April 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin put his signature to a decree lifting the 2010 embargo on the supplies of S-300 to Iran, while leaving in effect the restrictions on the sale of conventional weapons. It is expected that Tehran will now revoke its $4-billion lawsuit against Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport from the court of arbitration. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that for Iran modern air defense systems are crucial in view of the strained situation in the region, Yemen in the first place.
"At a certain point, five years ago, the surge of tensions over the Iranian nuclear problem prompted Russia to suspend the delivery of S-300 complexes under an effective contract, which caused Tehran’s strong protests," recalls the director of the RAS Institute of US and Canada Studies, Sergey Rogov. "These days the situation is changing and tensions over the Iranian nuclear program have eased in the wake of the agreements concluded in Lausanne, Switzerland. International experts now have no reasons to suspect Tehran of an intention to make nuclear weapons: all uranium enrichment in Iran will proceed under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This has rendered the arguments for restricting the supplies of S-300 complexes to Iran irrelevant," Rogov told TASS.
"I cannot rule out that US anger over the resumption of the Russian-Iranian contract will be transformed into a White House decision to take more sanctions against Moscow. That would certainly add to tensions in bilateral relations. Washington has unleashed another Cold War. Our wishes regarding US actions close to Russia’s borders are ignored, so three is no reason to show excessive restraint. As for Iran’s nuclear problem is concerned, Russia presents a common front with the West. But Moscow is in the position to take an independent stance when it comes to the sanctions that affect the interests of Iran and Russia," Rogov told TASS.
Major General Pavel Zolotaryov, retired, who is Rogov’s deputy at the Institute of US and Canada Studies, remarks that Washington keeps persuading Moscow the missile defense systems being deployed in Eastern Europe are not targeted against Russia, because their task is to ward off potential threats from Iran. "Our counter-argument to the US partners is the same: Russia’s intention to provide S-300 to Iran is not directed against any state in the Middle East, including the US ally in the region — Israel. That’s a purely defensive weapon," Zolotaryov said. "The UN Security Council’s resolution regarding sanctions against Iran established no restrictions of the supply of S-300 to Iran. It was the United States’ unilateral interpretation. Russia is against unilateral sanctions."
Deputy director of the Institute of Military and Political Studies, Alexander Khramchikhin, agrees. "The UN Security Council’s anti-Iranian sanctions did not apply to the S-300 contract. Russia should have long resumed S-300 supplies to Teheran so as not to lose big revenues from this commercial project and to avoid bearing the reputational costs like those France has to sustain by delaying the delivery of amphibious assault ships Mistral to Russia. Besides, Iran is Russia’s important ally in the region, and letting down an ally would be very wrong," Khramchikhin told TASS.
"The international response to Russia’s decision to supply S-300 launchers to Iran is quite predictable," says the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky. "Washington gets angry about any foreign policy move by Moscow. We are quite used to this. In Israel, the Kremlin’s decision met with a negative response, because with the missile defense systems at its disposal Iran will feel invulnerable."
Satanovsky believes that in the light of the forthcoming S-300 supplies to Iran Israel will have three likely responses to choose from. "First, to attack Tehran before it gets the air defense launchers, which is very improbable. Second, to devise ways of neutralizing the launchers somehow, but that would take time. Third, to address Iran with a mutual deterrence proposal Tehran will find irresistible, which would be most preferable."
"Moscow’s decision to sell S-300 to Iran is very timely," Satanovsky believes. "The UN sanctions against Iran will be lifted in several months’ time. Then the United States itself and the Europeans, too, will hurry to offer their own air and missile defence systems to Iran. Competition in the market of military hardware still exists. The Russian president has taken a very correct pro-active move," he concluded.
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