Iran: Russia to Deliver S-300 Missiles Next Week

Iranian defense minister says deal already reached, just needs to be formalized; system would prevent airstrikes against nuclear sites.

Ari Soffer ,

S-300 missile system
S-300 missile system

A top Iranian official has said that Iran will sign a deal to purchase advances S-300 missile systems from Russia by next week.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan claimed Tehran and Moscow have already reached an agreement on the terms of the deal, and could even formalize the purchase as early as this week, according to Iran Students News Agency (ISNA).

"We will go to Russia next week to sign the deal and there is no barrier hindering the agreement," following which the missiles will be transferred to Tehran, Dehghan said.

His comments confirm reports late last month that Russia was upgrading some elements of the S-300 system in preparation for an imminent delivery to Iran.

In July, Iran's state-run PressTV quoted Vladimir Kozhin, Russian President Vladimir Putin's aide on military and technical cooperation, saying that the system is to be modernized before being delivered to Iran, though he gave no date for the delivery.

According to ISNA "one series of the missile would be added to the previous agreement based on the new deal and all technological changes would be implemented in the new system, and an upgraded S-300 missile system would be delivered to Iran."

The upgrades are believed to be a precaution against possible airstrikes against Iran's S-300 system, which would essentially prevent any military strikes against Iran's nuclear program.

A previous Russian contract to sell Iran the S-300 system by 2010 fell through due to diplomatic pressure surrounding sanctions on the Islamic Republic. However, with the signing of the recent nuclear deal - which includes an astonishing commitment to help Iran protect its nuclear facilities against an attack - Moscow has revived the sale.

Russia caused a diplomatic stir in April when Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 to Iran. But Moscow later backpedaled somewhat and said that no date had been set for the shipment.

Iran meanwhile announced that it is planning to unveil its own Bavar 373 alternative to the S-300 in early September.