Russian news agencies reported Wednesday that a top defense official confirmed that Russia has signed a contract to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran but that none of the weapons have been delivered.
Russian officials have consistently denied claims that it already has provided some of the powerful missiles to Iran and had not clarified whether a contract even existed.
The state-run ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies and the independent Interfax quoted an unnamed top official in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service as saying that the contract was signed two years ago.
Service spokesman Andrei Tarabrin told The Associated Press he could not immediately comment.
Supplying the S-300s to Iran would markedly change the military balance in the Middle East.
Israel has been trying to thwart such a deal, sending Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau, to Russia to meet with Moscow officials on the matter.
The sale was also discussed during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visit to Russia in October. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Olmert was "encouraged" by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev approach on the matter, but said he did not promise to refrain from seeing the deal through.
A prominent Russian analyst, Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the missile contract was seen by the Kremlin as primarily a political rather than commercial matter.
"The S-300 contract, and cooperation with Iran in general, is regarded by Moscow only as an instrument of political bargaining with the West and not as a way of realizing the fundamental defense and commercial interests of Russia," he was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti.