Are Reported Iran-Russia Arms Deals Genuine?

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.

Iran’s foreign policy has experienced many developments following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with six world powers on July 14. The most significant of these changes is perhaps how Russia is now viewing Iran as a major arms customer.

Indeed, the past six months have been filled with nonstop stories by Russian media outlets quoting officials voicing Moscow’s keen interest in selling weapons to Tehran. Of note, the JCPOA lifts the ban on sales of major conventional arms and related components and services to Iran.

The first of these reported deals relates to a 2007 contract in which Russia had promised to supply Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missile systems — a contract that Moscow never fulfilled. However, after the nuclear deal, Moscow quickly changed position and announced that it would deliver the missiles to Tehran; this announcement was perhaps hurriedly made out of fear that Russia would have to pay compensation to Iran to the tune of billions of dollars in case of further delay.

However, as talks over the S-300 missile system (pictured) became more serious, Moscow set the precondition that Tehran first withdraw the lawsuit it has filed over the withholding of the missiles before any delivery can be made.

Subsequently, official Russian news agencies such as Sputnik began to report on the possibility of Moscow selling other heavy weaponry to Iran, such as Sukhoi Su-30 Flankers, MiG-35 fighter jets, T-90 battle tanks, amphibious vehicles and other weapons. But are these incessant reports accurately depicting a keen Iranian interest in purchasing Russian weaponry, or are they merely a form of psychological warfare?

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