President Shimon Peres
Photo: Reuters

Peres: Russia to reconsider missile sale to Iran

Speaking to reporters from Sochi, Israeli president says Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev 'gave a promise he will reconsider sale of S-300s to Iran because it affects delicate balance in Middle East'

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the Kremlin has promised to reconsider the planned delivery of powerful air defense missiles to Iran that Israel and the US fear could be used to protect Iran's nuclear facilities.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the pledge during their talks Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Peres said.


"President Medvedev gave a promise he will reconsider the sales of S-300s because it affects the delicate balance which exists in the Middle East," Peres told reporters via video link from Sochi. A Kremlin spokesman wouldn't immediately comment on Peres' statement.


Russia has signed a contract to supply the powerful S-300 missiles to Iran, but has dragged its feet on delivering them.


Israel and the United States fear that Iran could use the missiles to protect its nuclear facilities - including the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz or the country's first atomic power plant, which is being completed by Russian workers in Bushehr. That would make a military strike on the Iranian facilities much more difficult.


Israel wants Russia, which has close ties with Iran, to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. Moscow has supported limited UN sanctions on Iran, but opposed efforts by the US and others to impose tougher measures.


"President Medvedev told me that Russia will not support an Iranian nuclear bomb under all circumstances," Peres said. "But he also mentioned that the Russian appreciation of what's taking place in Iran is different from the American one."


Russian officials confirmed in March that a contract for the S-300 missiles had been signed with Iran two years ago, but a top Russian defense official said in April that no deliveries had been made yet.


Peres also said Wednesday that Iran's efforts to develop advanced missiles strained ties between Washington and Moscow. In May, Iran test-fired a new missile with a range of about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) - far enough to strike Israel, southeastern Europe and US bases in the Middle East.


"If it wasn't for Iranian missiles, maybe one of the thorny questions between Russia and the US will disappear - the bases that the United States is building in Poland and the Czech (Republic)," Peres said in a reference to the previous US administration's plans to build missile defense sites in Eastern Europe.


Russia has strongly opposed the US plans as a threat to its security, dismissing Washington's claims that the missile defense system is aimed at countering a threat from Iran.


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.09, 10:34
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