Russia lifts ban on missiles delivery to Iran
Russia signed the deal in 2007 but suspended it because of strong opposition from the U.S. and Israel
The Kremlin says Russia has lifted its ban on the delivery of a sophisticated air defense missile system to Iran, the Associated Press reported Monday, in a move which Iran said helps regional security.
Russia signed the $800 million contract to sell Iran the S-300 missile system in 2007, but later suspended their delivery because of strong objections from the United States and Israel.
The decree signed Monday by President Vladimir Putin allows for the delivery of the missiles.
Iran hailed Russia's decision as a step towards "lasting security" in the region.
"The development of bilateral cooperation (with Russia) and with neighbouring countries in various fields can be very effective for lasting stability and security in the region," Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Shortly after the announcement, the White House said the decision could raise sanctions concerns.
Israel also slammed the decision saying that Russia's decision is the “direct result” of the international community's framework nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
“This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran obtained from the emerging nuclear deal,” Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said.
Steinitz added that the arms deal shows that Iran plans to use the relief from economic sanctions to buy weapons, not improve the living conditions of its people.
Israel has harshly criticized the U.S.-led nuclear deal, saying it would give Iran relief from sanctions while leaving its nuclear program largely intact. Israel believes Iran still intends to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran filed a lawsuit with a court in Geneva seeking $4 billion in damages for breach of contract, but the court has not issued a ruling.
Russia has insisted that its decision in 2010 to freeze the S-300 delivery was based on the sanctions the United Nations Security Council imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.
Iran reached a framework deal with world powers this month that is intended to significantly restrict its ability to produce nuclear weapons while giving it relief from international sanctions. The agreement is supposed to be finalized by June 30.
There is no firm agreement on how or when to lift the sanctions.