New York Times: An Iranian official said Russia had started delivering an advanced air-defense system to Iran, despite earlier denials by Russia that a deal had been reached, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: December 21, 2008
TEHRAN — An Iranian official said Russia had started delivering an advanced air-defense system to Iran, despite earlier denials by Russia that a deal had been reached, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
The official, Esmail Kosari, the deputy head of Parliament’s Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Security, was quoted by IRNA as saying, “After a few years of talks with Russia, now the S-300 system is being delivered.”
The S-300, called the SA-20 in the West, is a surface-to-air missile system that can track aircraft and fire at them from more than 100 miles away.
In September, amid reports that a deal was near, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, denied that Russia would sell the missile system to Iran. “We do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries in the region,” he was quoted as saying in the semiofficial Fars news agency of Iran.
The Interfax news agency reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had said it was “investigating” the Iranian reports.
Israeli officials have long lobbied to prevent Russia from selling the system to Iran. On Sunday, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said a senior Russian official had told Israel that the new report about delivery of the S-300 was false. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked the Kremlin this fall not to go ahead with the sale.
In the IRNA report on Sunday, Mr. Kosari referred to Israeli efforts to prevent the arms sale, saying that Israel could not damage relations between Russia and Iran.