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Iran general scores Moscow trip ‘success’

Posted by seumasach on February 21, 2009


20th February, 2009

Iran’s defense minister says he achieved the objectives of his official visit to Russia amid reports that Tehran sought the S-300 system. 

In an interview with Russia Al Youmin Moscow, Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said military cooperation between Tehran and Moscow is directed at further regional stabilization. 

Najjar said although Iran has based its military prowess on indigenous technology, it will not hold back on purchasing foreign devices and systems if they enhance the country’s defensive line. 

“Our great relation with the Russian government allows the continuation of the military cooperation,” RIA Novostiquoted the Iranian general as adding. 

As Najjar prepared to arrive in Russia earlier in the week, Russian newspapers and news agencies reported that Iran sought to finalize the purchase of sophisticated air defense missiles. 

The S-300 surface-to-air system, which can track targets and fire at aircraft 120 km (75 miles) away, is known in the West as the SA-20. The system features high jamming immunity and is able to simultaneously engage up to 100 targets. 

The system, according to Western experts, would rule out the possibility of an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear sites. 

“If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran,” says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure. 

Evgenia Voiko, an analyst from Center for Current Politics — the analytical agency close to the Kremlin — told Press TV that Russia would not let the Iranian general return to his country empty-handed. 

“The deals would be beneficial for Russia. Iran is one of Russia’s largest military and technical partners. It would be imprudent to lose such a promising customer,” Voiko told our correspondent Svetlana Korkina. 

Kommersant had earlier reported that although an $800 million contract for five S-300 systems had already been signed between Iran and Russia, Moscow had yet to make a decision on whether to deliver them. 

“It is not ruled out that during the talks the Iranian side will raise the question about fulfilling the contract for the delivery of the S-300,” the Interfax news agency quoted a military source as saying. 

Iran has reportedly been interested in the system for some time after Israel escalated its threats of war against the country over its nuclear program. 

Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said in the annual IDF work plan for 2009 that the military was making preliminary preparations for launching a war against Iran to take out the country’s nuclear infrastructure. 

The US, Israel and their European allies — Britain, France and Germany — accuse the country of pursuing military purposes. Tehran says the only aim of its nuclear program is the civilian applications of the technology. 

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

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin told RIA Novosti on Friday that the Kremlin sees no obstacle in continuing its military cooperation with Iran. 

“I want to stress that Russia’s military and technical cooperation with Iran will continue,” he said. 

Moscow has also helped Iran construct a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr over the past decade. 


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