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Senior Russian lawmaker: S-300 deployment in Iran can’t threaten Israel

April 16, 2015, 2:03 UTC+3 PARIS
The systems are designed solely for protection from air attacks, Alexey Pushkov said
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PARIS, April 15. /TASS/. Deployment in Iran of Russian S-300 air defense missile systems, which Tehran hopes to obtain from Russia by the yearend, can’t be a threat to Israel’s security because the armaments are defensive, a senior lawmaker from the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, said Wednesday.

"These are antiaircraft missiles that can’t be used for offensive purposes. The systems are designed solely for protection from air attacks," chairman of the Duma foreign affairs committee Alexey Pushkov said at a conference in the Franco-Russian Dialogue association.

"Appearance of S-300s in the arsenal of Iran will not create threats to the security of Israel, which is located at a considerable distance from its borders," Pushkov said. "What will be under threat is the possibility to make an air strike on Iran. But some Israeli politicians, including the prime minister, say restriction of the possibility of an Israeli air attack is already a threat to Israel’s security. I can’t agree with that."

He recalled that Russia’s refusal to supply S-300s to Iran in 2010 was solely "a political decision" that Moscow made yielding to arguments of Israeli and American partners "not to add oil to the flame amid talks on a possible military operation to solve the Iranian nuclear issue."

"As a result, we lost a contract worth $800 million, had to dismantle the systems already prepared for delivery, and had an arbitration claim from Iran worth $4 billion," Pushkov said.

But, he continued, what Russia got from its Western partners "as a gesture of thanks" was "the state coup in Ukraine, exclusion from the G8, as well as the scandal at a summit in Northern Ireland’s Lough Erne, when unprecedented pressure was exerted upon Vladimir Putin on the issue of the start of a military operation in Syria."

Pushkov stressed that he current decision to supply S-300 systems to Iran does not run counter to UN sanctions against Tehran, as they contain no ban on supplies of defensive armaments. Besides, the UN sanctions may be lifted soon if a deal on Iran’s nuclear program is signed in June.

Russian president’s decree to lift ban on S-300 supplies to Iran

On Monday, April 13, Putin signed a decree to lift the ban on S-300 deliveries to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday Russia’s voluntary embargo on deliveries of S-300 missile systems to Iran is no longer needed due to progress in the resolution of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program.

He said that initially, the decision to suspend the implementation of the contract, which was already signed and came into force, was made in September 2010 to support consolidated efforts of the six international negotiators on Iran’s nuclear program to stimulate a maximally constructive process of talks.

This year, Lavrov said, the six international negotiators (P5+1), after a regular round of talks with Iran, stated on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, "substantial progress in settling [the problem around] Iran’s nuclear program."

The P5+1 is the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France - plus Germany.

Prospective deal in Iran-P5+1 talks

Iran says it needs nuclear power to generate electricity, but Western powers led by the United States claim Tehran's eventual aim is to create nuclear weapons.

At a meeting in Vienna in November 2014, the P5+1 and Tehran agreed to extend the deadline for a deal in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program to June 30, 2015.

The latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Lausanne ended April 2 with the conclusion of a joint comprehensive action plan on the Iranian nuclear program, to be adopted by June 30.

As the plan is being implemented, all political and economic sanctions are to be lifted from Tehran. Meanwhile, on April 9 media quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as saying that if sanctions are not lifted first, Iran will not sign the nuclear deal with the six international negotiators.

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