The proposal comes three years after a previous agreement under which Russia was expected to transfer five S-300 batteries to Iran was canceled. A week and a half ago Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed in an interview for AP that Moscow supplied Syria with components for the system, but that the shipment was not completed.
- Rohani: We won't give up 'one iota' of nuclear rights
- Russia sends warship with 'special cargo' toward Syria
- US to Russia: Selling S-300 missiles to Syria – mistake
According to a source within the Kremlin, Putin decided to grant an Iranian request to supply the Islamic Republic with the high-end S-300 air defense system with a deal estimated at $800 million which will also include coordinating the construction of an additional nuclear reactor in Bushehr.
S-300 system 'fits Iran's needs perfectly' (Photo: AFP)
Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected chief of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, told lawmakers that Moscow hopes that the US will back Russia's proposal for Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control for their subsequent dismantling.
During Wednesday's debate in the Russian parliament of a draft resolution on Syria, Communists called for an increase in Russian weapons supplies to Iran and a revision of conditions for transit via Russia of supplies for US forces in Afghanistan.
Pushkov said such action now would be premature as Russia and the US are working to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but he warned that if the "party of war" prevails in Washington, Russia should consider those moves.
"If the US takes the path of exacerbating the situation and forgoing diplomacy for the sake of a military scenario, such measures would seem absolutely justified to me," Pushkov said.
S-300 air defense system (Photo: AFP)
According to the report, Putin has instructed his staff to prepare the agreements so as to discuss them with Iranian President Hassan Rohani during the two leaders' scheduled meeting on Friday during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held in Kyrgyzstan. The source believes that Teheran will accept the renewed Russian proposal.
Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that Putin and Rohani were expected to discuss "working together in the nuclear energy sphere" and "questions of military technical cooperation" at the summit in Bishkek. According to him, the two agreements were not yet finalized and additional negotiations could be expected.
In 2007, a S-300 deal was signed between the two countries. Three years later the UN Security Council sanctioned Iran, and as a result the deal's completion was halted. In the past, Israel and Western powers had expressed concern over the deal, partly fearing it would pose a threat to any aerial attack on Iran's disputed nuclear facilities.
"This system is most effective," a Russian policy researcher said. "If Iran were to be attacked, the missiles would be the first to come into effect, and as such this system fits Iran's needs perfectly."
According to Wednesday's report, the arms deal is conditioned on Iran's withdrawal of a $4 billion damages suit filed against Russia with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva after Moscow backed out of the 2007 deal. At the time, Russia offered the Islamic Republic an alternative system instead of the S-300, but the Iranians refused.
Absolute nuclear rightsThe news came amid reports of a renewed bid to restart international peace talks regarding Iran's nuclear program.
On Tuesday, Iran's Rohani said that Iran "will not give up one iota of its absolute rights on the nuclear issue," repeating a mantra frequently used by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rohani's comments came ahead of a meeting in New York later in the month between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on restarting negotiations over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop