Russian Daily News Information Service

Russia to sell 29 air defence systems to Iran

This 700-million-dollar transaction is said to become Russia's largest deal since 2000.

Russia intends to sell 29 Tor M-1 defence systems, (capable of downing cruise missiles and other air attack missiles) to Iran. The Vedomosti newspaper wrote with reference to an anonymous manager of a defence enterprise. According to the newspaper, the contract on the matter has already been signed.

Tor is a solely defensive weapon, which intercepts cruise missiles. Journalists contacted the management of the Kupol (Dome) enterprise, which manufactures Tor anti-missile systems, although they failed to obtain a confirmation of the above-mentioned transaction.

A source from the air defence industry said that it goes about the sale of 29 Tor M-1 anti-missile complexes on the same basis as a previous Greek order. Greece purchased 21 systems and was intended to acquire 29 more, but later cancelled the order. Experts evaluate the Iranian contract at the sum of $700 million.

Mikhail Barabanov, an editor with Export of Arms magazine, said that the contract to sell 29 Tor M-1 air defence systems to Iran is the largest extrenal transaction in Russia since 2000. In 2000, Russia pulled out from the secret agreement with the USA about restricted arms deliveries to Iran. The document was known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Protocol. Moscow undertook not to strike any defence deals with Iran. In return, the USA promised to help Russia enter the international market of defence technologies. The promise was not kept, though.

"When Russia pulled out from the secret agreement with the USA, we expected Iran to become Russia's largest importer after China and India. However, the weapons, which Iran purchased from Russia during the following five years, were valued at $300-400 million. At the time, the Iranian administration thought that Russia would not be able to run a US-independent defence policy after dropping out of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Protocol," Mikhail Barabanov said.

"The transaction is not supposed to raise concerns with the US administration. Tor systems are tactical weapons. The deal should therefore be perceived as a commercial operation first and foremost," Vagif Guseinov, the Director of the Institute of Strategic Estimations and Analysis said. Iran needs to defend the atomic power plant in Bushehr, which is currently being built with Russia's participation. Israel may strike a preventive blow on Iran's nuclear object in Bushehr: Israeli officials have confirmed such a possibility on several occasions.


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