الإثنين , يونيو 15 2020

Russia unfreezes Iran arms delivery

In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 a Russian air defense missile system Antey 2500, or S-300 VM, is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow

The system will enhance Iran’s ability to defend against air attacks

Russia has lifted a ban on supplying Iran with a sophisticated air defence missile system, the Kremlin has said.

Delivery of the S-300s was cancelled in 2010 after the UN imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

But the Russian president gave the go-ahead after Tehran struck an interim deal with world powers to curb nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The US and Israel have criticised the news.

The $800m (£545m) contract to deliver the system was heavily criticised at the time by Israel and the US, who feared it could be used to protect Iranian nuclear sites from air strikes.

When it was cancelled, Iran filed a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in damages.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a statement that the sale was put on hold “entirely voluntarily” to aid the talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.

An S-300 PMU-1 anti-aircraft missile launches during a Greek army military exercise near Chania on the island of Crete on December 13, 2013

The missiles can shoot down jets and other missiles

In this undated file photo a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display at an undisclosed location in Russia

Russia signed a multi-million dollar contract to deliver a S-300 system in 2007

The Russian defence ministry said it was now ready to supply the S-300 equipment “promptly”, an official there said, quoted by Interfax.

The delivery would be a “step forward”, for Russian and Iranian relations, the Iranian Deputy Defence Minister Reza Talainik told the Tasnim news agency.

“I think Russia has returned to the first step and is prepared to act upon its previous undertakings. We hope it will do so and show us its good will,” he said.

Israeli anger

Israel, a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal, condemned the news.

“This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran obtained from the emerging nuclear deal,” said Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz.

He said it was “proof” Iran planned to use relief from sanctions for arms, rather than the welfare of the Iranian people.

But Mr Lavrov said the missiles were “entirely defensive”, and were of no security threat to any country, including Israel.

The White House said US Secretary of State John Kerry had raised concerns with Mr Lavrov about the announcement, spokesman Josh Earnest said, without elaborating.

Chinese ambassador Wu Hailong, French Foreign Secretary Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Alexey Karpov, the deputy director of the department for nonproliferation and arms control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R-L) pose in Lausanne April 2, 2015

Russia was among the global powers who secured an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear programme

The exterior of the Arak heavy water production facility in Arak, Iran, 360 kms southwest of Tehran, is seen on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2004.

The deal aims to prevent Iran developing a nuclear bomb, although Iran insists its programme is peaceful

The S-300 is a surface-to-air missile system that can be used against multiple targets including jets, or to shoot down other missiles.

It is not clear when the system would be delivered. Russia has stopped producing the model specified under the original contract and has instead offered an upgrade.

Russia was one of six major world powers to reach an outline agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The sides have set a 30 June deadline to reach a comprehensive deal.

Tough negotiations lie ahead, in particular on how and when to lift sanctions.

Meanwhile,Mr Kerry is due to brief Congress, as the Obama administration attempts to persuade opponents not to block the deal’s implementation.

He said they should “hold their fire” until they see a final agreement.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has cautioned against seeing the interim agreement as a guarantee of a final deal.

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