Iran warns Russia over failure to deliver S-300 missile systems
Russia will be responsible for the consequences caused by its failure to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran, the Islamic Republic's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Tuesday.
In an interview with Fars News Agency he said the delivery of the air-defense systems would not violate Russian or international laws, RIA Novosti reported.
Moscow said last week it would freeze the delivery of S-300 systems following a new round of UN sanctions imposed on Tehran June 9.
"Russia has a duty to fulfill its obligations... Implementing the S-300 deal is not against Russian laws or international regulations," Vahidi said. "It is obvious that [Russia] is responsible for the damages caused by its failure to implement the deal."
Vahidi also said that Russia would soon announce its official stance on the issue and that Iran would make no further comments until then.
Vahidi said in late April Iran would produce its own missile defense systems similar to Russia's S-300 system.
A Kremlin source said on June 11 the sale of S-300 air defense systems fall under the new UN Security Council's sanctions against Tehran, but the Russian foreign minister said it was up to the president to make the final decision.
UN Security Council Resolution 1929 imposes a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, and includes tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo.
Russia initially said the delivery of S-300 systems to Iran would not be affected by the new UN sanctions since they are not included in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.
However, experts from the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation suggested that the S-300 system did come under the new set of sanctions.
Moscow signed a contract on supplying Iran with at least five S-300 systems in December 2005, but delivery has so far been delayed.
The United States and Israel have urged Russia not to deliver the missiles to Tehran.
The S-300 contract is worth some $800 million, while Russian experts estimate the penalty for breach of contract at $400 million.
The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1, has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making it effective in warding off air strikes.