TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan hailed the Russian president’s Monday decision to repeal the ban prohibiting the delivery of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran, describing it as a prelude to the widening and enhancement of Tehran-Moscow relations in all fields.
The Kremlin’s press service announced earlier today that Vladimir Putin has removed the ban on the delivery of the missile shield to Iran.
In response, Gen. Dehqan said “the decree came as an interpretation of the will of the two countries’ political leaders to develop and promote cooperation in all fields”.
“Expansion of mutual cooperation with the neighboring countries in various fields can play an effective role in the establishment of durable security and stability in the region,” the Iranian defense minister said.
He said the threats posed by the trans-regional powers as well as the spread of Takfiri terrorist groups have necessitated the broadening and deepening of cooperation, a point “which has always been at the center of Iran-Russia talks for cooperation”.
Putin’s decision was announced hours after relevant reports said the Kremlin also plans to supply China with the advanced S-400 air defense system.
Earlier this month, a leading Russian defense expert said that his country may resume the deal to deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Iran.
After negotiators from Iran, the United States and other world powers agreed on April 2 to a framework for a final agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that a UN arms embargo against Iran should also go.
“Lifting sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, would be an absolutely logical thing to do,” said Igor Korotchenko, who heads the Global Arms Trade Analysis Center think tank in Moscow.
“Of key importance to us is the delivery of the upgraded S-300 missiles to Iran… A contract to this effect could be resumed on terms acceptable to both Moscow and Tehran,” he added.
In January, Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement to broaden their defensive cooperation and also resolve the problem with the delivery of Russia’s S300 missile defense systems to Iran.
The agreement was signed by General Dehqan and his visiting Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu in a meeting in Tehran in January.
The Iranian and Russian defense ministers agreed to resolve the existing problems which have prevented the delivery of Russia’s advanced air defense systems to Iran in recent years.
The two sides also agreed to broaden their defense cooperation and joint campaign against terrorism and extremism.
In 2007, Iran signed a contract worth $800mln to buy five Russian S300 missile defense systems.
But the deal was scrapped in 2010 by the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was unilaterally expanding on sanctions against Iran imposed by the UN Security Council.
Iran filed a $4bln lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva, which is currently pending review.
Moscow has struggled to have the lawsuit dropped, including by offering the Tor anti-aircraft systems as replacement, media reported in August, adding that the offer was rejected by Tehran.
The Antei-2500, however, may be a better solution, the reports said. The system does not formally fall under the existing sanctions against Iran while still being useful for the Middle-Eastern country.
While the S-300 was developed for the use by missile defense forces, the Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force.
Later, Iran rejected the offer, stressing that it would not change its order.
The S-300 is a series of Russian long range surface-to-air missile systems produced by NPO Almaz, all based on the initial S-300P version. The S-300 system was developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles for the Soviet Air Defense Forces. Subsequent variations were developed to intercept ballistic missiles.
The S-300 system was first deployed by the Soviet Union in 1979, designed for the air defense of large industrial and administrative facilities, military bases, and control of airspace against enemy strike aircraft.
In the meantime, Iran designed and developed its own version of the S-300 missile shield, known as Bavar (Belief) 373. The Iranian version has superior features over the original Russian model as it enjoys increased mobility and reduced launch-preparation time.