S-300 missile system serves defense purposes for Iran: Putin
KONFRONTASI - Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended Moscow’s recent decision to deliver S-300 air defense system to Iran, saying the system is meant for deterrence amid the developments in war-torn Yemen.
He made the remarks during his annual televised question-and-answer session with the nation at Gostiny Dvor (Merchant Yard) exhibition hall in the Russian capital city of Moscow on Thursday.
“This is a defensive weapons system. More than that, considering the situation that is building up in the region, especially regarding the incidents in Yemen, we think that the delivery of this kind of weapon is a preventive factor,” Putin said.
The comments come as Yemen has been the scene of deadly aerial assaults by Saudi Arabia since March 26. The attacks have so far killed some 2,600 people, according to Yemeni sources.
The Russian president further rejected claims that supplying the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to the Islamic Republic could result in the destabilization of the Middle East, adding that the possession of such defensive systems would prevent possible hostilities rather than provoke them.
On April 13, Putin signed a presidential decree, paving the way for the long-overdue delivery of the missile shield systems to Iran.
The Russian head of state further defended the decree and said halting the shipment of S-300 systems to Iran about five years ago was a “solely unilateral decision” by Moscow.
“Now that we are seeing real and obviously positive progress over Iran’s nuclear negotiations, we have no reasons to keep this [restriction in place],” Putin said.
Moscow had put a ban on the delivery of the system to Tehran in 2010 under the pretext that the agreement it signed with Iran in 2007 was covered by the fourth round of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The resolution bars hi-tech weapons sales to the Islamic Republic.
Following Moscow’s refusal to deliver the system, Iran filed a complaint against the Russian arms firm, Rosoboronexport, with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva.
Russia’s decision to lift the ban against the Islamic Republic comes after Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - reached a mutual understanding on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2. The two sides are now expected to start drafting a final inclusive deal by the end of June.[ptv]