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Russia not Supplying 'Replacement' Missile System to Iran

Head of Russia's arms export industry denies reports of talks to replace cancelled S-300 missile system deal with Iran.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/15/2013, 9:20 AM

Illustration: S-300 missile defense batteries
Illustration: S-300 missile defense batteries
Reuters

Russia will not be supplying Iran with a replacement for the S-300 missile defense system delivery which it cancelled, according to the head of Rosoboronexport. The company is a Russian state-owned arms company, which holds an effective monopoly on all arms exports from the country.

Speaking to journalists in Baku, Azebaijan, Anatoly Isaiki said that despite media reports of discussions over a replacement system, no such deals were in the pipeline.

“I will only be able to speak about that if there were any deals or when there would be deals, but there are none,” he said, according to the RIA media agency.

The announcement is the latest chapter in a saga over arms exports to the Islamic Republic. In 2007, Russia signed a deal to sell four S-300 SAM (surface-to-air missiles) batteries. The system would have been a game-changer, as it would have posed serious challenges for any potential air strike on Iranian nuclear sites by the US or Israel, which both countries' say is still on the table if diplomatic efforts to halt the program fail. The S-300 system can effectively intercept aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

But in 2011 the Russians caved in to US pressure and cancelled the deal, prompting a $4 billion lawsuit by the Iranian government, which is still pending review in the international courts.

There had been reports in the Russian media in June that a replacement offer had been floated Russia to provide Iran with the Antei-2500 system, which is similar to the S-300. That proposal was never confirmed, and last week the Iranian ambassador to Russia denied that such talks were taking place.

The denial by the head of Russian state-controlled weapons industry seems to have put an end to such speculations, although western intelligence sources will no doubt be watching carefully for the prospect of any backdoor deals to follow.