Netanyahu to Putin: S-300 Sale Will Only Make Iran More Aggressive

Premier expresses Israel's disappointment with Russian president's decision to lift the ban delivering the advanced air defense systems to Iran.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Better times. Netanyahu and Putin in Jerusalem, 2012.
Better times. Netanyahu and Putin in Jerusalem, 2012.Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly an hour on Tuesday, and expressed Israel's disappointment with the latter's decision to rescind the ban on selling S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran.

"Netanyahu told Putin that Russia's decision will only make Iran more aggressive in the region and threaten security in the Middle East," a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office read.

Putin on Monday signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in light of the progress in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, there was no longer a need for the embargo.

After speaking with Putin, Netanyahu also stated that Russia's decision to lift the ban on selling the S-300 systems to Iran is a direct result of the emerging nuclear agreement between the Islamic Republic and world powers. "After this weapons deal, is there anyone that still seriously claims that this agreement with Iran will make the Middle East safer?" asked Netanyahu.

Prior to Netanyahu and Putin's talk, the Iranian embassy in Moscow published a statement claiming that the Iranian defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, will arrive in Moscow on Wednesday to participate in an international security conference and hold talks with Russian security officials on a variety of topics, including sale of the S-300 systems. "This is an issue of utmost importance for us in light of the decision made by President Putin," Iranian security officials told TASS, the official Russian news agency.

The head of the Iranian security council, Ali Shamkhani, on Tuesday said that Iran expects Russia to deliver the air defense systems by the end of the year. His Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, said delivery would take time. "It will depend on our manufacturers," he told the Interfax news agency. "I believe they will need at least six months to complete this work."

Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday that the sale of Russian-made S-300 anti-missile systems to Iran is a direct result of the agreement reached in Lausanne earlier this month.

"Iran keeps on arming itself and others," Ya'alon said. "The S-300 deal we are hearing about now – in fact, the Russian renewal of the deal that was put on hold over the past several years – is a direct result of the framework agreements reached at Lausanne. This is something we warned about before the details were ironed out."

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