Russia’s Ace in the Hole: a Super-Missile It Can Sell to Iran, Daily Beast, Eli Lake, April 8, 2014
(Food for thought perhaps suggesting that, in the unlikely event that the Obama Administration intends to provide Israel super-bunker buster bombs and aircraft with which to deliver them, it had best do it soon. — DM)
It’s Washington’s nightmare scenario: an aggressive Moscow deciding it’s time to arm Tehran with sophisticated weapons. And it may be closer to reality than you think.Tensions between Russia and the West are hitting a new peak. And in this face-off, Moscow has an extraordinary piece of leverage: a super-sophisticated, bomber-killing missile that it once threatened to sell to Iran.Last week, Reuters first reported Russia was preparing an oil-for-goods deal with Iran worth up to $20 billion. An unnamed Iranian official told the news service that the barter would include Russian weapons. And that was before further signs of Russia’s shadow invasion of Ukraine emerged Monday, when crowds spontaneously appeared in three major eastern cities to welcome the troops amassed over the border. The Daily Beast reported that associates of Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed and Kremlin-friendly Ukrainian president, were meeting with pro-Russian activists. One keen-eyed photographer captured a man wearing a Russian Airborne forces tee-shirt at one of the protests.The trade between Moscow and Tehran would alleviate the economic pressure on Iran that the White House has said helped bring the Islamic Republic to the bargaining table. It may even sink the talks President Obama is hoping will persuade Iran to defang its nuclear program.If those talks fail, then Russia has the leverage to equip Iran with the missile that could defend its centrifuges and reactors from allied air strikes, the S-300.“I could see as part of this deal [between Tehran and Moscow] that they would agree to transfer advanced missiles to Iran,” said Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and an expert in the Iran sanctions. “If [Russian president Vladimir] Putin became angry enough over the West’s financial punishment of Russia, he could put in play the S-300 deal.”The S-300 has long been Moscow’s top-of-the-line air defense system. The current model is comparable to U.S. Patriot missile batteries. The S-300 deploys sophisticated radars, launch vehicles and missiles to shoot aircraft and even ballistic missiles out of the sky. Russia has also threatened to sell the system to Syria, whose hapless air force was hacked by Israel in 2007, rendering its anti-aircraft defenses useless when Israel bombed the al-Kibar nuclear facility.
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