Russia not negotiating sale of Antei air defense systems to Iran - source
Russian exporters of special equipment are not negotiating the sale of the new missile air defense system S-300VM Antei-2500 to Iran at the moment, a military-diplomatic source familiar with the situation told Interfax-AVN on Wednesday.
"The sale of Antei-2500 systems to Iran cannot be ruled out in the future, but Russian special exporters are not doing any pre-contract work on the matter for the time being," the source said when commenting on media reports alleging that the Russian government had made a decision to sell five divisions of the S-300VM Antei-2500 missile air defense systems to Iran in exchange for Tehran's withdrawal of a $4 billion suit against the Russian defense export monopoly Rosoboronexport for canceling a previous contract for five divisions of the S-300PMU1 air defense systems worth about $800 million.
"It is well-known that that contract was annulled due to the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran. Based on these sanctions, Russia unilaterally suspended the implementation of that contract and refunded the $166.8-million down payment it received from Iran earlier. The sanctions have still not been lifted. We have always strictly adhered to international law and regulations in the export of weapons and will not violate them," he said.
Kommersant reported in its Wednesday issue with reference to a source close to the Kremlin that the Russian government had made a decision to accommodate Iran on two fundamental issues, i.e. the sale of modified S-300 systems and the construction of another unit of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.
"Russia will sell five divisions of S-300VM Antei-2500 missile air defense systems (a modified export version of the S-300V system) to Iran. The key term of the deal is that Tehran must withdraw its $4 billion suit against Rosoboronexport for annulling the previous contract," Kommersant quoted its source as saying.
The newspaper recalls that Russia and Iran had signed a contract for five divisions of the S-300 systems worth some $800 million in 2007. Three years later, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, including a ban on selling it modern weapons.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree in September 2010 on measures to comply with the resolution, which effectively annulled the contract for the S-300. Iran filed a lawsuit against Rosoboronexport with a Geneva court of arbitration.
A number of experts interviewed by Kommersant believe Tehran would agree to buy the Antei-2500.
"This system is even better for Iran than the S-300PMU1, as it is more effective at intercepting missiles. And if Iran is attacked, missiles will be primarily used. So the Antei-2500 is perfectly suitable for Iran's defense needs," Vladimir Yevseyev, the director of the Center of Sociopolitical Studies, told Kommersant.
As for the construction of another unit of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, the source close to the Kremlin told Kommersant that this project "is not very economically beneficial but is politically advantageous."
Kommersant also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to discuss both issues with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at their first meeting on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek on September 13.
Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that the Kremlin would refrain from specifying the agenda of the upcoming talks but confirmed that both issues would be addressed by Putin and Rouhani.
"Interaction in the nuclear power sector, including in the context of the Bushehr NPP, will be discussed. This matter cannot be ignored," Peskov said.
"Aspects of military-technological cooperation are also on the agenda," he said.