Three years after Russia cancelled a contract that would have delivered five S-300 missile systems to Iran, Moscow is now renewing the deal, and it also plans to build a second reactor for the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran, the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported on Wednesday.
The paper quoted a source close to the Kremlin as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to the Iranian request, offering to supply Tehran with the air defence missile systems at a cost of $800 million.
The Russian newspaper added that Putin has also agreed to build a reactor in the Bushehr nuclear plant. The Russian President is set to discuss the details of the agreement in a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday.
Russian sources believe that Tehran is expected to accept the renewed Russian offer.
In response to questions by Kommersant, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not deny that there are ongoing discussions between Moscow and Tehran. He confirmed that Putin and Rouhani are expected to discuss “working together in the nuclear energy sphere” and “questions of military technical cooperation” at the upcoming summit.
In 2007, Tehran and Moscow signed a contract for Russia to supply Iran with five S-300s. Three years later, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran, and Israel and Western states expressed their concerns about the deal on the grounds that it could block an air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Such pressure on the then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev resulted in the cancellation of the deal.
An expert with a Russian political studies centre was quoted as saying that S-300 air defence missile systems are very effective in intercepting missiles, and if Iran is attacked, then these missile defence systems will primarily be used.
According to Kommersant, in return for the deal Iran will withdraw a $4 billion lawsuit that it had lodged against Russia at an international court in Geneva over Moscow’s cancellation of the deal in 2010.
The Iranian Ambassador to Russia Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajad had lately expressed his country’s readiness to make such a compromise if it acquires air defence systems at a convenient time and cost.