Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran will not drop its 2007 deal with Moscow to pay $800 million for the Russian-made S-300 air defense system missile shield, semi-official state news agency FARS reported on Thursday.
The deal was formally scrapped in 2010 by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “who was unilaterally expanding on sanctions against Iran imposed by the UN Security Council,” in the words of FARS. Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva, which is still pending.
Speaking in a joint press conference with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov, in Tehran, on Wednesday, Zarif said, “We still insist on the implementation of the past agreements,” when asked about the status of the S-300 agreement, FARS reported. “The Russian deputy prime minister in a recent visit to Iran held talks with senior Iranian defense officials (on S-300) and these talks will continue,” Zarif added.
FARS said that last month Moscow offered Tehran the Tor anti-aircraft systems as a replacement, but that was rejected. FARS proposed the Antei-2500 as a possible solution.
“The system does not formally fall under the existing sanctions against Iran while still being useful for the Middle-Eastern country,” the news agency said. “While the S-300 was developed for the use by missile defense forces, the Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force.”
This week, Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Commander, Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli, unveiled the domestically built Arash radar. The Khatam ol-Anbia compound is the headquarters of Iran’s land-based air defense capabilities and houses 18,000 military personnel.
Iran continues to seek weapons from the Soviet Union, North Korea, Brazil, and China to meet its short term military requirements, and the country’s technicians reverse-engineer those products. Iran’s sovereign weapons development program was born from the sanctions imposed after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah.