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Russian FM defends Moscow's lifting of S-300 ban

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man takes a picture of a Russian surface-to-air missile system S-300 displayed on Suvorovskaya square in central Moscow. ©AFP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended his country’s decision to provide Iran with the S-300 missile system, stressing that the move would not pose a threat to the security of any country in the Middle East.

He made the comments shortly after the Kremlin said in a Monday statement that President Vladimir Putin had signed a presidential decree paving the way for the long-overdue delivery of the surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

The missile deliveries have not been part of the UN sanctions on Iran, the Russian minister said, adding that President Putin’s go-ahead for the shipment of the missiles came after Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - reached a mutual understanding on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.

During the talks in Switzerland, the six world powers made “substantial progress in resolving” the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, Lavrov said. “We believe that at this stage there is no longer need for this kind of embargo - from the Russian side- it was unilateral and voluntary.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov © AFP

He highlighted that the missile system is "exclusively defensive" and will not “put at risk the security of any state in the region.”

“Meanwhile, a modern air defense system is now very relevant to Iran, especially taking into account the severe escalation of tensions in neighboring areas and especially the rapid development of military activity in Yemen in recent weeks,” Lavrov stated.

The planned delivery sparked concerns in Washington while the Israeli regime denounced the move. However, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Russia’s decision to lift the ban indicates the political will of the two countries’ officials to improve cooperation in all fields.

A handout picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry shows Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan (C) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu during the signing of an agreement in Tehran on January 20, 2015. © AFP

Under a contract signed in 2007, Russia was obliged to provide Iran with at least five S-300 defense systems.

However, Moscow refused to deliver the surface-to-air missiles to Tehran in 2010 under the pretext that it is covered by the fourth round of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which bars hi-tech weapons sales to Tehran.

Following Moscow’s refusal to deliver the system, Iran filed a USD four-billion suit against the Russian arms firm, Rosoboronexport, with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva.


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