Conflicting Reports on Iran Receiving First Shipment of S-300 Defense System From Russia

Iranian news agency retracts report claiming that Russia has sent first part of advanced air defense missile system to Iran.

Belarussian soldiers near an S-300 surface-to-air missile complex during joint Russian-Belarussian military exercises, Volka, Belarus, September 24, 2009.

An Iranian news agency on Monday retracted an earlier report claiming that Russia has sent a first shipment of the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran.

The Tasnim news agency first cited Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari as saying that a first shipment of the missiles has arrived in the Islamic Republic.

"The first batch of Russia's S-300 air defense missile systems has arrived in Iran," Ansari was quoted as saying.

Shortly thereafter, the agency changed the story, quoting Ansari as announcing "that the first phase of this (delayed) contract has been implemented."

The Mehr news agency, however, said Ansari's comments came in response to a question about the shipment of the advanced missile system, and treated the annoucement as confirmation of the delivery.

The Tasnim report further quoted the head of Russia's industrial conglomerate Rostec as saying last month that Iran would receive the first shipment of S-300 later this year.

"I think we will deliver the S-300 by the end of the year,” Sergei Chemezov reportedly said on March 11. “The first delivery will be in September or August.”

Russia says it canceled a contract to deliver S-300s, among the world's most capable air defense systems, to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West. But President Vladimir Putin lifted that self-imposed ban in April 2015 following an interim nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

In February, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Moscow planned to soon send its first delivery of S-300 missile systems to Tehran.
That report said the systems would be transported from the southern Russian city of Astrakhan via a direct water route through the Caspian Sea to Iran.

RIA Novosti reported that the deal had been worth about 900 million dollars.

Israel strongly opposes the supply of the system to Iran, which does not recognize the Jewish state.