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DELIVERIES OF S-300 COMPLEXES TO IRAN MAY BE PUT OFF

Will Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Iran be left without S-300 antiaircraft complexes?


News agencies report that deliveries of Russian S-300 antiaircraft complexes to Iran may be tabled. Moscow’s refusal to complete the Iranian antiaircraft defense framework compromises all of the missile nuclear program of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Signals from Moscow may be viewed as acceptance of the suggestion "to apply pressure to Tehran" US President Barack Obama made to the Kremlin last week.

“The matter of S-300s complexes for Iran is no longer purely commercial,” IranVNC news agency quoted an anonymous source as saying. “It should be handled on the political level.” The source added that the S-300 contract signed in 2005 was never fulfilled. Experts in the meantime doubt that it will ever be fulfilled. “Russia is making S-300s no more,” to quote Vladimir Yevseyev, an analyst with the International Security Center of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations (the Russian Academy of Sciences). “The Russian Antiaircraft Forces use S-400s now.” As for the S-300 complexes for Iran, Russia may only remove some from the line or get them from some other countries, say, Belarus.

Yevseyev added that deliveries of S-300s to Iran would almost certainly make the regional situation even more complicated than it already was. “Deployment of the antiaircraft complexes and personnel training will take at least six months,” he said. “Let’s recall the recent episode involving Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine had provided Georgia with analogous antiaircraft complexes and found it necessary to have them manned by the Ukrainian personnel because the Georgians needed time to master them.” Complexes in the process of deployment in Iran will become targets for American and Israeli missile strikes and commando units. The United States and Israel become quite fidgety when the matter concerns appearance of S-300 antiaircraft complexes in Iran.

It is actually understandable. S-300s are a weapon that will enable Tehran to repel American or Israeli strikes. The TOR-M1 complexes Russia delivered in 2006 will be effective only when coupled with S-300s. Neither can Iran find a replacement anywhere. The Chinese clone Honggi HQ-18 does not even come close to the Russian prototype. Moreover, the Chinese never sell antiaircraft complexes to foreign customers.

Incomplete antiaircraft defense system in the meantime compromises the Iranian nuclear missile programs, Ahmadinejad’s pet project. The risk to themselves and to the country may persuade religious leaders of Iran to remove the unruly president. It may be accomplished in a democratic manner, in the course of the presidential election come June.

Last week, Obama asked his Russian opposite number Dmitry Medvedev to put Tehran under pressure in return for abandonment of the plans to develop the third position area in East Europe. Officially, Moscow and Washington deny reports on all and any “deals” but the latest developments show that Iran is being put under pressure from both sides.

Ahmadinejad refused Turkey’s offer

President of Iran Mahmud Ahmadinejad said his country did not need Turkey as a go-between in normalization of relations with the United States. This statement was made at the meeting with President of Turkey Abdullah Gul, currently in Tehran for the Economic Cooperation Organization summit. Official Ankara had made several offers to intercede and aid in restoration of contacts between Iran and the United States.

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