By Sarah Kuehn,
International News Writer
Russia signed a contract on Monday, Nov. 9, finalizing an agreement to supply Iran with sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles.
The agreement was made possible by the lifting of international sanctions on Iran earlier in the year following its nuclear program deal, according to the BBC.
Russian officials have stated that the missiles can be delivered as early as 18 months after Iran specifies the particular model of S-300, according to the BBC.
According to Sergei Chemezov, Russia’s Rostec arms firm, “The deal to supply the S-300 to Iran has not only been signed between the parties but it has already come into force,” as quoted by the BBC.
The contract would have come into force earlier, as it was signed in 2007, but it was frozen by Russia in 2010 in response to international sanctions placed in Iran. President Vladimir unfroze the agreement in April earlier this year, according to the BBC.
Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia are heavily opposed to this political and military union, the main reason being that Israel and the US fear the weapons could be used to “protect Iranian nuclear sites from air strikes,” according to the BBC.
Chemensov also stated that Saudi Arabia had repeatedly asked Rostec, the company that produces the missiles, not to supply the S-300 to the Iranian government, but he insists that the S-300 are for defensive purposes only, according to the BBC.
The S-300 can be used to take down a variety of targets such as jets, or other missiles. For example, the S-300B4 can shoot down any of the medium range missiles today, as well as being able to fly “five times the speed of sound,” with a range of 400km (248 miles), according to the BBC.
Sources indicate that Moscow might have an ulterior motive for the deal, as the Russian government expects Iran to drop charges against it at a Genevan court.
Iran is seeking damages for the original suspension of the deal, according to CBS News. The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal was worth about $800 million.
Arieh Herzog, former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Program, stated that he did not “expect the shipment to set off a regional arms race and that as far as Israel was concerned its main impact was to complicate any potential Israeli airstrike against Iran,” as quoted by CBS News.
He went on to reassert that this program is for defensive purposes only and “trying to prevent the capability of our air force to operate there as it may be capable of operating today.”
Herzog speculated that another fear that the Israelis might have is that if these missiles were deployed to Iran’s ally, Syria, the weapons could fall into the hands of IS.
Russia, in the past, has sought to secure a niche in the Iranian market with the S-300 deal.
It has also been having talks with Saudi Arabia. Chemezov also stated that Moscow was talking to the Saudi Arabian government about the potential to deliver an even more advanced S-400 missile air system, according to CBS News.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 17th print edition.
Contact Sarah at