Russia Denies Report of Arms Deal with Iran
Russia has denied a report that President Vladimir Putin will offer to supply Iran with S-300 air defense missile systems, and to build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
A spokesman for Putin, Dmitry Peskov, told the Russian RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday evening that the president had not ordered any concrete work on an S-300 deal, as had been reported earlier in the day by the Kommersant business daily.
Peskov told Kommersant that Putin would discuss both military and nuclear issues with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on the sidelines of an upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Kyrgyzstan.
The report earlier on Wednesday cited a source close to the Kremlin who said that Putin will renew an offer to supply Iran with five S-300 ground-to-air missile systems when he meets Rouhani.
Russia signed a contract in 2007 to supply Iran with five S-300 advanced missile batteries, which can be used against aircraft or guided missiles, at a cost of $800 million.
In 2010, Russia's then-president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the deal, after the U.S. and Israel applied strong pressure on him. The U.S. and Israel worry that the S-300 would make Iran less vulnerable to attack by either one of them, and motivate Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
Meanwhile, reported RIA Novosti, two senior Russian lawmakers have called for additional shipments of “defensive weapons” to Iran if Washington proceeds with planned airstrikes against Syria.
“If the ‘party of war’ wins out in the USA and the efforts by Syria’s enemies … bring results, I find it absolutely justified … for Russia to consider more serious measures, including expanding supplies of defensive weapons to Iran,” said Alexei Pushkov, who heads the foreign policy committee of parliament’s lower house.
Such a proposal was initially made by Pushkov’s deputy, lawmaker Leonid Kalashnikov, but was voted down by the lower house. However, Pushkov told RIA Novosti the initiative could be brought back for a re-vote if the U.S. does indeed attack Syrian government targets.