TEL AVIV – Tehran has deployed a Russian-made long-range missile system to central Iran to protect its Fordo nuclear facility, Iranian state television said Sunday.
Commander of Iran’s air defenses, General Farzad Esmaili, said defending the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities is paramount “in all circumstances.”
“Today, Iran’s sky is one of the most secure in the region,” he said.
Iran will “strain every nerve” to protect its nuclear sites, Esmaili was quoted as saying on Iran’s Press TV.
“These sites are the national achievements of the Islamic Republic and they must be fully protected,” he added.
Watch the video from Press TV here:
Released images and a video showed an S-300 carrier in Fordo, with its missile launchers raised toward the sky, seen alongside other counter-strike weaponry. The Russian-made system is one of the most sophisticated in the world, providing protection against aircraft and missiles.
The images were broadcast only a few hours after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told air force commanders, including Esmaili, that Tehran’s military power was for defense purposes only.
“Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy,” Khamenei said.
“The S-300 system is a defense system not an assault one, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it,” he added.
The U.S.-led nuclear agreement eased sanctions on Iran on the condition that it would rein in its nuclear program. Israel has stressed its concerns regarding the sale of the S-300, saying it could prevent a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli officials have also voiced their concerns that the long-range missile system would have the ability to reach Syria and Tehran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
Russia halted an agreement made in 2010 to supply Iran with the missile defense system as a result of UN sanctions. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin renegaded on the suspension following the signing of the nuclear agreement in July 2015.
The first shipment of the Russian-made missile defense system arrived in Iran in April.
The Fordo nuclear facility is supposed to have ceased enrichment of uranium since the deal’s implementation in January.
As part of the deal, Iran was instructed to dismantle the majority of its approximately 19,000 centrifuges for the purposes of enrichment, keeping only 5,000 active for research.
Tehran has kept up development of its diverse ballistic missile defense system – including conducting regular missile tests – in violation of UN resolution 2231 which stipulates that the country must refrain from doing so for eight years.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and others have slammed Tehran for the move, saying missile tests were not conducive to the spirit of the nuclear deal, even though the deal does not specifically prohibit the tests.
Tehran defended the measure by saying it does not aspire to obtain nuclear weapons.
Last week, Iran conducted high-speed intercepts of American vessels, prompting U.S. officials to accuse the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of “harassing” the warships.
In response, Iranian Defence Minister said Thursday, “If an American ship enters Iran’s maritime region, it will definitely get a warning. We will monitor them and, if they violate our waters, we will confront them.”
Watch the Farsi-language report on the deployment here: