Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Russia Drops Plan To Supply Iran With S-300 Missiles

Russia has dropped plans to supply Iran with S-300 missiles because they are subject to international sanctions, a top general said Sept. 22, in the strongest confirmation yet of the leadership's intentions to put the controversial sale on ice.

"A decision has been taken not to supply the S-300 to Iran, they undoubtedly fall under sanctions," the chief of the general staff Nikolai Makarov said in an apparent reference to U.N. sanctions, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

"There was a decision by the leadership to stop the supply process; we are carrying it out," Makarov said.

Makarov however did not give a definite answer when asked if the missile contract itself would be nixed permanently.

"We will see, this will depend on Iran's behavior," the Interfax news agency quoted Makarov as saying.

The U.N. Security Council in June adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear drive, imposing broader military and financial restrictions on the Islamic republic.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said in June that U.N. sanctions would not affect Russia's S-300 missile supplies to Iran, saying that the missiles were "defensive weapons" that did not fall under the terms of the sanctions.

Russia agreed the missile deal several years ago but has never delivered the weapons amid pressure from the U.S. and Israel, which fear they would dramatically improve Iran's defensive capabilities.

In June, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Moscow would not sell the missiles to Iran in line with U.N. sanctions, a French official told reporters on the condition of anonymity at the time.

An aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said in June that the S-300 missile deal would likely be scrapped, but that a formal decision would come in a decree.

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