By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security
Russia appears ready to sell advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, in spite of international sanctions banning the arms shipments to Iran.
Reuters initially reported that Iran plans to ink a deal for four of the S-300 Russian missiles, possibly as soon as next week.
“The text of the contract is ready and our friends will go to Russia next week to sign the contract,” Iran Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan reportedly said according to various news outlets.
Meanwhile, Russian officials were blunter in their commentary on the missile sale:
“The topic is closed,” stated Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. “We have reached full understanding on the matter together with our Iranian partners.”
Officials within the Obama administration were quick to condemn the troubling move.
“We have long expressed our concerns over reports of the possible sale of this missile system to the Iranians,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told Fox News.
Russia was one of the numerous countries (including the U.S.) in favor of the Iran nuclear agreement, which adds an additional five years to the current arms embargo.
A State Department official told Fox News that the missile system in question is not technically outlawed under either the United Nations sanctions or the nuclear agreement. However, it’s clear that the State Department is strongly opposed to any sale of arms to Iran – especially from Russia.
“We certainly object to it,” department spokesman John Kirby told a pool of journalists.
S-300 Missiles: Capable of Bringing Down a ‘U.S. or Israeli Jet’
Russia’s S-300 missiles in the hands of the Iranians presents the world with an extremely discouraging scenario, and the air defense system in question is one that might produce disastrous consequences. “This is a very capable weapons system that can bring down U.S. or Israeli jet aircraft,” stated a Defense department official with knowledge of the missiles to Fox News.
However, the news Wednesday is not new to the Obama administration which strongly voiced opposition to the Russia-Iran arms sale when it was first announced in April. At the time, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated “The United States has previously made known our objections to that sale, and I understand that Secretary Kerry had an opportunity to raise these concerns once again in a recent conversation with his Russian counterpart.”
It’s clear that the conversation between Secretary of State Kerry and his opposing number in the Russian government did little to prevent the missile sale to Iran from moving forward. Other world leaders expressed their growing concern including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was vehemently opposed to the Iran nuclear agreement that both Russia and the U.S. were a party to. Netanyahu exerted Israel’s “dismay” at Russia’s decision to supply the S-300 missiles to Iran.