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No way Iran could get S-300 missiles - expert

RIA Novosti

17:25 05/08/2010 MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) - The recent report by the Iranian Fars news agency about deliveries from Belarus of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Tehran is a bluff, a Russian arms expert said on Thursday.

The Belarusian government denied on Wednesday rumors that Minsk had allegedly sold S-300 air defense systems to Iran. Fars reported that Iran had acquired two S-300PT (SA-10 Grumble) systems from Belarus and two more systems from an unidentified supplier. There has been no official confirmation from Tehran.

Igor Korotchenko, head of a Moscow-based think tank on the international arms trade, said it was unlikely Belarus could have sold two systems because, when signing an S-300 contract with Russia, Minsk "provided an end user's certificate, which rules out the possibility of re-export."

According to his think tank, four S-300PS battalions (48 missile systems) were delivered to Belarus from Russia as part of an integrated air defense system.

He said deliveries of such systems from third countries were impossible for the same reason.

The Russian expert said the Fars report should be regarded as a "feeler," designed to provoke a negative reaction from the United States and Israel, "which, as a general rule, leads to the consolidation of various political parties and movements in Iran around the ruling regime."

Jane's Defense Systems News reported in January 2008 that Tehran was in the final stages of negotiations with Belarus on the acquisition of two S-300PT systems.

Belarus allegedly asked for $140 mln (including parts, maintenance and training) for the outdated systems, which were deployed near Minsk.

Russia signed a contract on supplying Iran at least five S-300 systems in December 2005, but the contract's implementation has so far been delayed.

On June 9, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1929 imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, including tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo.

The sale of S-300 air defense systems is believed to fall under the sanctions, though earlier Russia said the delivery would not be affected since the weapons are not included in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

The S-300 PT is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 90 miles (144 kilometers) and altitudes of up to 90,000 feet (27,432 meters).

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