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Kremlin must decide on sales of S-300 to Iran - Rosoboronexport


MOSCOW, February 4 (RIA Novosti) - A decision on the delivery of advanced air defense systems to Iran can only be taken by the Russian leadership, the head of Russia's state arms exporter said on Wednesday.

There has been significant media speculation of late concerning possible negotiations between Moscow and Tehran on the delivery of S-300 (SA-20 Gargoyle) air defense systems to the Islamic Republic.

"In relation to the discussion of possible deliveries of S-300 air defense systems [to Iran] I would like to reiterate that if the Russian president and the government adopt such a decision, Rosoboronexport will have to implement it," Rosoboronexport's general director Anatoly Isaikin said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

He insisted that the military and technical cooperation that Russia was developing with Iran was transparent, and complied fully with international and Russian laws.

"We are doing everything absolutely openly and in accordance with the current legislation," the official said. "Before we can send even a pistol, even a round of ammunition abroad, we have to coordinate the issue with a number of state bodies and receive their permission."

"Therefore, only a decision at the highest political level can give us the 'green light' to start contract negotiations," Isaikin said.

The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1, has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making the system an effective tool for warding off possible air strikes.

Media reports on possible S-300 delivery to Iran have alarmed the U.S. and Israel, which have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military action against Tehran. The systems could greatly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its strategically important sites, including nuclear facilities.

Iran recently took delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

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