Updated 12/22 11:05 AM EST
The potential sale of Russia’s S-300 air defense system to Iran has caused Israeli officials no end of concern, but as Major General Amos Gilad wrapped up his visit to Russia that nation’s intentions with respect to the system depend largely on whom you believe.
Pyotr Stegny, Russia’s ambassador to Israel, says there is no question of such a sale, adding the Russia is adhering to agreements reached during Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s visit to Moscow. Beyond that, the ambassador insists, Israel “will be the first to know about any progress or change in the matter of the missiles.” Russia’s state arms export agency confirmed selling defensive weapons to Iraq, including other surface-to-air missiles, but would neither confirm nor deny the S-300 being among them.
But Esmail Kosari, member of Iranian parliament and Deputy Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, says today that Iran and Russia have reached an agreement on the delivery of the system after years of negotiations.
The S-300 series of surface to air missiles are the backbone of Russia’s air defense system, and their acquisition by Iran would make Israel’s long threatened attack on Iran considerably more difficult. Israel previously claimed to be developing an “electronic warfare device” which would neutralize the S-300 both in Iran and in Russia but has since claimed that the acquisition of the defensive missiles by Iran could lead to the destruction of Israel.