Reuters: Ex-Soviet Belarus dismissed as laughable on Friday a report by intelligence journal Jane’s that it was ready to sell Iran two missile systems for $140 million. MINSK (Reuters) – Ex-Soviet Belarus dismissed as laughable on Friday a report by intelligence journal Jane’s that it was ready to sell Iran two missile systems for $140 million.
Jane’s on Thursday said Belarus, a fierce critic of the United States, was in the final stages of negotiations with Tehran over the sale of Soviet-era S-300PT air defense systems. The report quoted Belarussian defense sources.
“This is untrue. Such information can only induce laughter,” said a spokesman for Belarus’s security council. “There are no grounds for the story and no grounds for any sale.”
Russia denied last month statements by Iran’s defense minister that it intended to supply an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran.
The S-300 missiles have a longer range than the TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles which Russia said earlier this year it had delivered to Tehran under a $1 billion contract.
The United States and Israel criticized that deal, saying Iran could use the system to attack its neighbors.
Iran is subject to U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activity that Western countries suspect it wants to master to build nuclear bombs. But conventional weapons sales to Tehran are not banned.
A foreign ministry spokesman said Belarus would abide by all U.N. measures concerning Iran.
Western media have previously suggested that Russian missile systems could be supplied to Iran, possibly through Belarus, which is accused by the United States and European Union of violating fundamental human rights.
Jane’s quoted the Belarussian sources as saying that the S-300PT systems would be transported to Iran partly assembled aboard cargo aircraft.
The S-300PT was one of the first modified versions of an air defense system first developed in the Soviet Union in 1978.
The modified system, completed in the 1980s, is used by three air defense brigades in the country wedged between Russia and three European Union countries.
Belarus, under President Alexander Lukashenko, has been developing ties with several states criticized by Washington, including Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
The United States had previously accused Belarus of selling arms to now-deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, while offering no conclusive proof.
(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky, Writing by Ron Popeski, edited by Richard Meares)