AFP: Russia is delivering "defensive" anti-aircraft systems to Iran, the country's arms export firm said on Monday, while not commenting on reports it was sending S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Tehran.
MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia is delivering "defensive" anti-aircraft systems to Iran, the country's arms export firm said on Monday, while not commenting on reports it was sending S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Tehran.
"At present, only systems of a defensive nature are being delivered to Iran, including means of air defence," the Rosoboronexport company said in a statement. "Previously Tor-M1 systems were delivered to Iran."
The company did not confirm whether it was delivering S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. Tor-M1 air-defence systems, which Iran has acquired, have a shorter range than the sophisticated S-300s.
However Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed military source as saying that the Russian defence ministry was preparing to hand the S-300s over to Rosoboronexport for delivery to Iran.
"The delivery of the S-300s to Iran is expected to be carried out from Defence Ministry storage sites. Currently the S-300s are being prepared for transfer to Rosoboronexport and then their shipment to the customer," he said.
The source said Russia was planning to deliver S-300PMU1 systems, which have a longer range than older versions of the S-300.
"This is a purely defensive weapon, intended to protect especially important sites from aerial attack," he was quoted as saying.
Last week RIA-Novosti news agency reported that Russia was selling S-300s to Iran, citing anonymous sources. Moscow had previously denied such a deal.
The deputy head of the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs commission, Esmaeel Kossari said last week that Russia was in the process of delivering the S-300 systems to Iran.
The reports come amid persistent tension between Iran and the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which the West fears could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
The United States and its ally Israel have never ruled out an aerial attack against Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions.