Russia Bans Sale of S-300 Missiles And Other Weapons to Iran

Russian President  has signed a decree banning thedelivery of S-300 air defense systems and a host of other major arms toIran, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The ban, which includes battle tanks, armored vehicles,large-caliber artillery systems, warplanes, military helicopters, shipsand missiles, is part of measures Russia is taking to comply with UNSecurity Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chief of the Russian General Staff Army Gen.Nikolai Makarov said Russia would not deliver S-300 air defense missilesystems to Iran as planned because such transfers are prohibited underUN sanctions.

Medvedev also banned entry to and transit via Russia for a number ofIranian nationals connected with the country's nuclear program, andbanned Russian individuals and legal entities from rendering financialservices if the services relate to Iran's nuclear activity.

Russia signed an $800 million contract on delivery to Iran of S-300systems to equip at least five battalions in late 2007. The contract'simplementation had so far been delayed. Experts are considering whetherthe missiles fall under the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UNSecurity Council in June.

The sanctions include a ban on supplies of conventional arms toIran. According to the document, "states are prohibited from selling orin any way transferring to Iran eight broad categories of heavy weapons(battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillerysystems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles ormissile systems)." However, the S-300 air defense systems are notincluded in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Israel and the United States have voiced concerns over Russia'splans to supply high-precision S-300 systems, capable of destroyingaircraft at ranges of 150 km (90 miles) and at altitudes of up to 27 km(17 miles), to Iran. No such systems have been delivered to the IslamicRepublic yet.

Commenting on Medvedev's decree to ban the sale of weapons to Iran,Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said: "If this decision was made,it was solely due to Russia's national security."

International pressure on Iran increased in early February whenTehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20 percent in lieuof an agreement on an exchange that would provide it with fuel for aresearch reactor. In June, the UN Security Council passed a resolutionimposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran currently has some 2.8 metric tons of low enriched uranium and22 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, according to the latestIAEA report. Experts say that these 22 kilograms are already enough toproduce a nuclear bomb.

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