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Friday, December 28, 2007

Russia Provides Even More Weapons to Rogue Iran

Suppose America were to deliver missile systems to Chechnya, and when asked why by Russia George Bush answered: "Why did we do this? I can explain why. We did this so that Iran did not feel it had been driven into a corner. So that it didn't feel that it was in some kind of hostile environment." What would Russians think about that?

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Iranian officials said Wednesday that they have signed a contract to buy an advanced Russian anti-aircraft system, a move that could complicate any plans for an air attack by U.S. or Israeli warplanes.

The sale to Tehran of powerful new air-defense missile technology also would create new sources of friction between the Bush administration and the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. officials harshly criticized Russia for an earlier missile sale to Iran completed in January. In Crawford, Texas, where President Bush began a post-Christmas holiday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott Stanzel expressed concern over the disclosure, which had not been confirmed by Moscow as of late Wednesday. "We have ongoing concerns about the prospective sale of such weapons to Iran and other countries of concern," he said.

U.S. officials suspect Tehran of seeking to build nuclear bombs, although Iran has denied doing so. A U.S. intelligence report concluded last month that Iran suspended any nuclear weapons effort in 2003. The White House has consistently said it is committed to diplomacy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but always adds that no option is off the table, including military force. Administration officials are frustrated with the lack of progress in arranging a new round of UN sanctions against Iran, heightening international fears of a possible military showdown. By sharply upgrading its national air defense system, Iran is likely to only fuel such fears.

The new Russian technology is part of its S-300 anti-aircraft system, which consists of long-range weapons that have been compared to the U.S. Patriot missile in their sophistication and capability. The S-300 system would augment the TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missiles that Tehran received from Russia this year. While the TOR-M1 missiles are intended for lower-flying planes, unmanned vehicles and precision-guided weapons, the S-300 missiles are able to reach high-flying support squads and far-off, approaching attackers. Its range is about 90 miles, or an altitude of about 90,000 feet, weapons experts said. The contract was signed Tuesday in Tehran and announced Wednesday by Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar, according to state-controlled media. "Russia will provide Iran with the S-300 missile system under a deal signed between the two countries," said Najjar, according to state media. "The exact date of the delivery will be announced later."

The S-300 was developed by the former Soviet Union to combat aircraft and cruise missiles, but later variations were designed to fight ballistic missiles. Until recently, Iran's air defense system was based on 1970s technology and was concentrated on protecting its military bases and nuclear installations. Because the systems were in fixed locations, they were considered vulnerable, especially to possible U.S. or Israeli attack. However, Russia agreed in 2005 to sell Iran its modern, mobile TOR-M1 anti-aircraft systems, which are based on the platform of a battle tank launcher. Russia promised Iran 29 launchers, each with its own radar and eight guided missiles.

U.S. officials bitterly protested the sale. The Bush administration last year placed Russia's state arms trader, Rosoboronexport, under State Department sanctions, along with the Russian fighter jet manufacturer Sukhoi. The move prevented U.S. companies from doing business with the Russian companies. Sanctions against Sukhoi, which also is selling aircraft to Venezuela, were rescinded months later after a meeting between Bush and Putin. Russia argued that engaging Iran offers a more promising chance for future stability than threatening the country. Putin dismissed questions about the TOR-M1 missile deal in Munich in February.

"Why did we do this? I can explain why," Putin said at an international security policy conference. "We did this so that Iran did not feel it had been driven into a corner. So that it didn't feel that it was in some kind of hostile environment."

The earlier sale, estimated to be worth at least $700 million and as much as $1.5 billion, also was part of what Western officials have said is Russia's drive to re-establish itself as a world arms supplier. However, the Russians had resisted Iran's requests for access to the more advanced S-300 system, in part to avoid an increase in international tension. Some arms experts have speculated that Iran could have been making plans to acquire missiles elsewhere. Russia has agreed recently to sell some of the S-300 missiles to Belarus and Cyprus.


Anonymous said...

For a start Iran is a sovereign state, unlike Chechnya.


La Russophobe said...

If you read even a little, you'd learn that the Chechen people don't see it that way. And if you ask a Slavic Russian whether the Chechens are to be treated as full Russia citizens, and are so treated, you'll find out that they don't actually see them as "part of Russia" but rather as an enslaved part of Russia's empire.

Meanwhile, you don't answer the question, but try to avoid it. That shows you know the answer will reveal Russia's monumental hypocrisy. You can't defend Russia's actions on the basis of consistency.

As an aside, we'd like to mention that just as you "can't be bothered" to make a lucid response, we "can't be bothered" to publish your gibberish. You might consider that the next time you write something for our consideration.