Emerging Markets, Frontier Markets

Russia Lifts Ban On Delivering S-300 Missile Systems To Iran; Supplies May Begin “Any Moment”

Russia's S-300 air defense missile system.  Photo courtesy of TASS.

Russia’s S-300 air defense missile system. Photo courtesy of TASS.

Russia has lifted a ban on deliveries of its advanced anti-missile system to Tehran on Monday, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The lifting of the ban is in wake of progress that was made during the Iran nuclear talks over a week ago, which paves the way for the international community to gradually lift sanctions from the Islamic Republic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday to lift the ban on the supplies of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. The ban was imposed in 2010.

“The decree cancels the ban from transit through Russia (including by air), transportation outside the territory of Russia to the Islamic Republic of Iran and also handover to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the territory of Russia with the use of ships and aircraft flying the Russian state flag of the air defense missile systems S-300,” according to a statement released by the Kremlin’s press-service.

Supplies of Russia’s S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran may begin at “any moment” in line with the relevant decree which was signed by Vladimir Putin earlier in the day, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russia’s TASS news agency reports.

“The decree stipulates… no delays,” Peskov said. adding that the second provision of the decree states that “it comes into force on the day it was signed.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier on Monday that Russia’s voluntary embargo on deliveries of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran was no longer needed due to progress in the resolution of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program.

“Initially, the decision to suspend the implementation of the contract, which was already signed and came into force, was made in September 2010,” Lavrov said. “It was done in the interests of support for consolidated efforts of the six international negotiators to stimulate a maximally constructive process of talks on settlement of the situation in regard to the Iranian nuclear program.”

Lavrov stressed that the ban “was done absolutely voluntarily.”

“The P5+1 stated progress in the settlement of Iran’s nuclear program. Political frameworks of the final agreement were coordinated. They received a high assessment everywhere on the international arena,” he said.

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

“This result was in many respects achieved because the six international negotiators worked in a consolidated manner on political settlement of the serious problem,” Lavrov said. “We are convinced that at this stage, there’s no more need of such an embargo, Russia’s separate voluntary embargo.”

“S-300 is an air defense missile system, which is of a purely defensive nature. It is not designed for attacks and will not put at risk the security of any regional state, including Israel, of course,” Lavrov said.

“Meanwhile, for Iran, taking into account the very tense situation in the region surrounding it, modern air defense systems are very important,” he said.

“This is in particular proven by fast alarming development of events in the past week of the military situation around Yemen. Of course, we couldn’t but take into account commercial and reputational aspects too. As a result of contract suspension, Russia did not receive large sums we were to have received,” Lavrov said.

“We see no more necessity in doing that, taking into account progress in the talks on settlement of the Iranian nuclear program and an absolutely legitimate nature of this forthcoming deal,” he said.

Iran says it needs nuclear power to generate electricity, however Western powers led by the U.S. claim Tehran’s eventual goal 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, Switzerland, ended April 2 with the conclusion of a joint comprehensive action plan on the Iranian nuclear program, which is to be adopted by June 30.

As the plan is being implemented, all political and economic sanctions are set 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.

Earlier on Monday the Director General of Russia’s major arms exporting company Rosoborobexport said that China has become the first foreign buyer of Russia’s cutting-edge S-400 missile defense systems, according to interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant.


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