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Russia and Iran sign S-300 air-defense missile contract

The deal to supply advanced air-defense systems to Iran is "back in force," Russian officials say. The Kremlin had suspended the controversial sale during the nuclear row with Tehran.

Moscow and Iran will push on with the deal to deliver the missiles, the head of a Russian state-controlled arms manufacturer Sergei Chemezov said at the Dubai Airshow on Monday, adding that the contract "has already been signed."

Moscow's long-standing plans to supply Iran with the surface-to-air missiles have sparked strong condemnation from the US and its allies in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Israel are particularly opposed to the sale, claiming it could destabilize the region.

"This is defense equipment. And we are ready to offer this defense equipment to any country," Chemezov told Reuters news agency.

Pressure from the Gulf

The traditional S-300 systems have a maximum range of 150 kilometers (93 miles), and can hit targets at the altitude of over 27 kilometers.

Russian officials have repeatedly insisted that the surface-to-air missiles could not reach neighboring countries.

"So if the Gulf countries are not going to attack Iran ...why should they be threatened?" Chemezov said.

According to Chemezov, representatives of Saudi Arabia have approached his firm "several times" urging them not to deliver the missile systems.

Tehran and Moscow first made the deal on buying the S-300 in 2007, but the Kremlin froze the $800-million (745-million-euro) contract in 2010, due to UN sanctions against Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

lifted the suspension in April

ahead of the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers.

Kremlin hunting for buyers

The military-industry representative Chemezov did not provide details on the exact type of weapons, their number or delivery schedule on Monday.

In February, state-controlled arms manufacturer said that

Moscow offered Antey 2500 systems to Iran,

an updated version of S-300 with the alleged range of 400 kilometers.

While there are several versions of the systems in use, the models Tehran ordered in 2007 are not produced anymore.

The Kremlin was also considering offering Antey-2500 to Egypt, and was talking to Saudi Arabia about possibly supplying them with even more advanced S-400 systems.

"There is a renaissance in our relations with the country," Chemezov said on Monday. "I hope these talks will lead to the signing of contracts."

dj/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, Interfax)

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