Putin Ends Ban on Delivery of S-300 Missile System to Iran

Embargo no longer needed due to progress in nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Russian foreign minister says.

An S-300 air-defense missiles launcher, left, and a S-300 missiles guidance station
In this 2001 file photo, an S-300 air-defense missiles launcher, left, and a S-300 missiles guidance station, right, are seen at an undisclosed location in Russia. AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile systems to Iran, the Kremlin said on Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in light of the progress in the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, there was no longer a need for the embargo.

According to the Kremlin, the presidential decree lifts the ban to deliver the missile system to Iran through Russian territory or outside of it, using planes or ships sailing under the Russian flag.

Russia's Defense Ministry will be ready to swiftly deliver the S-300 missile system to Iran if it gets the green light to do so, Interfax news agency quoted an official at the ministry as saying. 

Russia says it canceled a contract to deliver the advanced missile system to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West following UN sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, but world powers and Tehran have now reached an interim deal on curbing Iran's nuclear work.

In recent years, Russia did not supply Iran with the advanced missile system, due in part to Israeli and American requests. Had the advanced missile system been delivered to Iran, it would have made an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities much harder.

Russia had signed a contract with Iran, to sell it the S-300 system, but the contract was canceled during the rule of the last president, Dmitry Medvedev. After the contract was canceled Medvedev released a presidential decree banning the delivery of a missile system to Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised concerns with his Russian counterpart over Russia's decision, the White House said on Monday. Russia's decision to start an oil-for-goods swap could also raise sanctions concerns, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing.