Moscow Pushes Ahead With Deal Against US Protests
Russia's defense minister Sergei
Ivanov confirmed Tuesday his country has sold an unspecified number
of short-range Tor-M1 missiles to Iran.
"We have delivered short-range Tor-M1 missiles to Iran in
accordance with the contract," Ivanov told reporters.
Although there have been several recent media reports about the
sale citing unidentified officials, Tuesday's announcement by
Ivanov was the first government confirmation from Russia.
According to Russian media reports, the former Soviet country
entered a $700 million contract with Iran to supply 29 of the
sophisticated missile systems. And that may not be the end of it.
Other reports in the country's media suggest the government has
recently discussed selling Iran the more powerful, longer range
S-300 air defense system. Although Russian officials have
previously denied that, Ivanov vaguely hinted Tuesday those reports
might be true.
"If the Iranian leadership has a desire to purchase more
defensive weapons, we would do that," Ivanov said, without
All of this goes directly against US requests for all countries
to stop arms exports to Iran, and to halt any cooperation on the
country's nuclear program -- this in an effort to pressure Iran
into ceasing its uranium-enrichment activities.
US State Department spokesman Tom Casey told the Associated
Press he was unaware of the sale Ivanov confirmed Tuesday, but
added, "I don't think you've ever heard us say that it's a good
idea for anyone to be selling weapons to either Iran or to other
state sponsors of terror."
Absent a UN mandate, any country may trade with Iran as it
pleases. To date, the UN security council remains at loggerheads
over the severity of sanctions it should impose on Iran for defying
the multi-national organization's demand for the middle-eastern
country to halt uranium enrichment.
Russia says the Tor-M1 is a limited-range weapon possessing no
nuclear capabilities, and therefore doesn't violate current
international agreements. According to an Associated Press report,
the system is capable of tracking 48 targets and firing at two
simultaneously up to 20,000 feet.
Although Russia continues to support Iran's right to nuclear
energy -- it has a $1 billion contract to build a nearly-complete
nuclear reactor in the country -- it has joined the US and the rest
of the world in demanding Iran discontinue enrichment
Officials in Tehran insist the country's nuclear enrichment
program is for peaceful purposes, but the US and its allies argue
Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons.