Iran’s Defense Minister, Hossein Dehqan, on Monday welcomed Russia’s decision to lift a ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile rocket systems to his country, claiming the decision would help maintain stability in the region.
“The expansion of cooperation [with Russia] and improving cooperation with other neighboring countries in various fields can be very effective in establishing sustainable stability and security in the region,” Dehqan said, according to Iran’s PressTV.
“Extra-regional threats and the spread of terrorism....have increased the need to further expand cooperation [between the two countries]...,” he added.
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 United States and Israel applied strong pressure on him. Both countries 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.
The Commander of Iran's Air Defense Forces, Farzad Ismail, said in early 2014 that the missile "Bawer" (Faith) made in Iran, has reached the operational phase of development, and that it features more advanced capabilities than the S-300 Russian-made missile.
Earlier on Monday, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz denounced Russia's decision to lift the ban, saying it was proof of Tehran's newfound "legitimacy" following nuclear talks.
"At a time when Iran denies clause after clause of the agreement declared last week, the international community has already begun easing its sanctions," Steinitz said in a statement.
"This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people."
"Instead of demanding that Iran desist from the terrorist activity that it is carrying out in the Middle East and throughout the world, it is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression," he added.