MOSCOW — Iran’s defense minister on Tuesday announced the delivery of a powerful S-300 air-defense missile system from Russia as part of an arms deal that was revived after the Islamic republic reached a framework nuclear agreement with world powers last year.
Iranian Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan said at least one S-300 system, often compared to the U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile system, has been delivered to the Khatam al-Anbiya base, Iranian state news agencies reported. Russian officials have said they plan to deliver at least four of the missile defense systems by the end of the year.
The delivery is part of an $800 million contract signed in 2007 under which Russia was to provide Iran with five modern S-300 systems, which have a range of about 120 miles and can engage aircraft or short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Russia suspended the deliveries in 2010, amid protests from Israel and the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban last year shortly after the signing of the framework nuclear deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, which eventually led to a final agreement in July. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said publicly at the time that there was “no longer any need for this kind of embargo,” adding that the ban on the missile sales had been “unilateral and voluntary.”
Elizabeth Trudeau, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said that the United States objects to the sale of such sophisticated equipment as the S-300 but that it does not violate either the nuclear deal or U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“It’s a sophisticated piece of military apparatus,” she said, adding: “We’ve made our concerns known for quite some time on this particular piece of equipment.”
Since the July accord partially ended sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program, Russia has eyed new weapons contracts and commercial deals with Iran as the country emerges from international isolation. According to Russian media reports, those include sales of warplanes, tanks and ships not covered under weapons sanctions that were imposed by the United Nations and remain in effect.
Iran paraded components of the missile system during an Army Day celebration last month, although an expert at IHS Jane’s, a defense analysis company, noted that the engagement radar, missiles and launchers were not displayed. The missiles, which are typically launched from the back of a truck, can be deployed quickly and can hit multiple targets at once.