S-300 Missile Deal Still up in the Air

By Abbas Qaidaari, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

‘Special messages’ aside, Iran’s S-300 missiles still up in air

TEHRAN, Iran — Prior to his recent trip to Russia, Iran’s Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan announced that he will discuss the long-stalled transfer of the S-300 air defense system as well as the possibility of reaching an agreement on the purchase of multirole Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets.

While in Moscow, he met with senior Russian officials, including his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and President Vladimir Putin.

After the Feb. 16 visit, Russian media outlets reported that the first batch of S-300 missiles had been shipped Feb. 17 via the Caspian Sea, from Astrakhan in Russia to Bandar-e Anzali in Iran, and had officially been delivered in the presence of Dehghan himself.

Sputnik News Agency quoted Russian sources on the latter and later published an interview with Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mostafa Izadi, in which Izadi confirmed that Russia has indeed delivered the first shipment of the missiles.

However, in spite of widespread expectations in Iran that Russia would take the first step toward implementing the S-300 deal, in order to rebuild trust, the Putin’s spokesperson suddenly announced that the missiles will not be delivered since Iran has not yet paid for them.

The Russian reasoning was that it is therefore too soon to deliver the missiles. Although the reasons for Moscow’s sudden turnaround are not wholly clear, it can be argued that it has further increased Iranian distrust of the Russians.

In regard to the possibility of Iran buying new fighter jets from Russia, Dehghan announced, “We know how many Sukhoi Su-30 fighters we are planning to buy. However, for now, we shall not announce the number.” Previously, some sources had mentioned the possibility of Iran buying Chinese J-10 fighters or French Mirage fighters.

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