Moscow: A senior Russian official on Tuesday said Moscow is to make the first shipment of its S-300 air defence systems to Iran in the coming days as part of a long-running contract between Tehran and Moscow.
“I don’t know if this will happen today, but they (the consignments) will be loaded (for shipment to Iran),” Zamir Kabulov, a department chief at the Russian foreign ministry, was quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency as saying.
In mid-February, the official had said that Moscow would deliver the surface-to-air missile systems to Tehran in “the nearest time”.
Russia was committed to delivering the systems to Iran under a $800-million deal in 2007. Moscow, however, refused to deliver the systems to Tehran in 2010 on the plea that the agreement was covered by the fourth round of the UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The sanctions barred hi-tech weapons sales to Tehran.
Following Moscow’s refusal to deliver the systems, Iran filed a complaint against the relevant Russian arms manufacturer with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva.
In April 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a previous ban on the delivery of S-300 to Iran, and in November last year, Russia signed a new contract to supply Iran with the systems by the end of that year for the first time since the 2010 freeze on supplies under the UN Security Council sanctions.
Recent pledges to make the delivery came after Iran and the P5+1 states -- five permanent members of the UN Security Council Russia, China, France, Britain, the US, and Germany -- reached a landmark agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on Tehran’s nuclear programme in July last year.
Under the JCPOA, all nuclear-related economic and financial bans against the Islamic Republic were lifted.