Russia to Fulfill S-300 Defense System Contract in a Month

Hossein DehqanHossein Dehqan

Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said the last batches of the S-300 anti-aircraft weapons will be transferred from Russia to Iran in a month, which indicates the  execution of a controversial contract first signed in 2007.

“A large part of the S-300 system has been delivered and the remaining is being loaded and will be received next month,” he said in a press conference in Tehran on Saturday, Fars News Agency reported.

Russia had signed an $800-million deal to sell the air defense system to Iran in 2007, but in 2010, it refused to hold its end of the bargain, citing a UN Security Council resolution that placed an arms embargo on Tehran.

In response, the Islamic Republic filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva against Russia in 2011.

But the Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the S-300 delivery ban in April 2015, shortly after Iran and major powers reached a framework agreement outlining key parameters of the nuclear deal they concluded in July 2015. Following the removal of the self-imposed ban by Russia, it signed a new contract to supply Iran with the anti-aircraft system.

Dehqan said Iran’s non-pursuit of the complaint was conditioned on the system’s delivery and after receiving a major part of the hardware, Tehran dropped the lawsuit.

“They offered to give us the S-400 or Antey-2500 systems instead of the S-300, but we didn’t accept that,” he said. “Of course, if Russians do not fulfill their remaining obligations as per the agreement, we will have the right to lodge a complaint.”

  Russian Aircraft in Hamedan to Stay

The defense chief said Iran and Russia are enhancing their “strategic cooperation”, a sign of which was the recent presence of Russian fighters and bombers in the Hamedan air base.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said last Tuesday that it had deployed Tu-22M3 bombers and Su-34 strike fighters in Iran to carry out airstrikes against terrorists in Syria.

Asked to comment on concerns voiced by some lawmakers that allowing the use of airspace to another country may be in violation of the Iranian Constitution, Dehqan said the aircraft are carrying out operations aimed at the self-styled Islamic State militant group and other terrorist groups in Syria, at the request of the Syrian government.

“We didn’t give Russia a military base ... We facilitated the implementation of an anti-IS operation in Syria, on which we had agreed before,” he said. According to the Constitution, no foreign country can have a military base inside Iran.

The defense minister said Russians can use the Hamedan air base “as long as needed” and they are allowed to repair or equip their aircraft there.

Dehqan noted that Iran is in talks with Russia and China to hold joint military maneuvers and maritime search and rescue exercises.

“Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan will visit Iran in the near future,” he said.