Moscow is close to inking an agreement that would expedite the transfer of several of its S-300 missile units to Iran, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Tuesday, Iran’s state-media reported. The air-defense batteries will help extensively to secure Iran’s military and nuclear sites against airstrikes.
Russia has had the S-300s ready for Iran since 2010, but had agreed to not sell the regime the sophisticated technology following international pressure.
But Russia has reneged on its promise, and the new missile shipment will be delivered shortly after the two sides finalize the deal, which is expected to happen no later than next week, Iran’s state-run ISNA news agency reports Dehghan as saying.
The Iranian Defense Minister reportedly said that the system would come with an additional battery and technological upgrades.
“We will go to Russia next week to sign the deal and there is no barrier hindering the agreement,” Dehghan said Tuesday, concluding that he expects the system to be delivered shortly after signing the deal.
Dehghan added that the two sides are currently negotiating over buying fighter jets from Russia, because Iran predominantly operates older U.S.-made aircraft and is banned from upgrading its jets with U.S. technology due to sanctions.
President Vladimir Putin unilaterally lifted the ban on the S-300 sale in April following the interim agreement negotiated between world powers (US, UK, China, Russia, France, Germany) and Iran, Reuters reported.
Pieter Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute told Reuters that the new missile defense batteries will allow Iran to protect its sensitive assets throughout the country.
“With four battalions, they should be able to deploy missile systems in four different locations,” Wezeman stated.