Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Russia to reconsider missile sale to Iran: Peres


Israeli President Shimon Peres said yesterday that the Kremlin had promised to reconsider the planned delivery of powerful air defense missiles to Iran.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the pledge during their talks on Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Peres said.

“President Medvedev gave a promise he will reconsider the sales of S-300s because it affects the delicate balance which exists in the Middle East,” Peres told reporters via video link from Sochi.

A Kremlin spokesman would not immediately comment on Peres’ statement.

Russia has signed a contract to supply the powerful S-300 missiles to Iran, but has dragged its feet on delivering them.

Israel and the US fear that Iran could use the missiles to protect its nuclear facilities — including the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz or the country’s first atomic power plant, which is being completed by Russian workers in Bushehr. That would make a military strike on the Iranian facilities much more difficult.

Israeli and US officials have strongly urged Moscow not to supply the weapons and the issue has been the subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for years.

Russian officials confirmed in March that a contract for the missiles had been signed with Iran two years ago, but a top Russian defense official said in April that no deliveries had been made yet.

Analysts said that Moscow could be using the S-300 contract as a bargaining chip in its relations with the US and Israel.

Israel wants Russia, which has close ties with Iran, to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. Iran, whose president has expressed hatred of Israel, maintains its nuclear program is only designed to provide more electricity. Israel, the US and other nations fear that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

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