Israel has warned Russia of the possibility that an advanced air defense system it is planning to sell to Venezuela could eventually make its way to Iran, according to defense officials.

The system, the S-300, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world, with a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.

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Iran signed a deal with Russia to buy the system in 2007. But following the passing of a fourth set of UN sanctions in June, the Kremlin announced that it would not deliver the system to Iran. Israel and the United States had lobbied Moscow to cancel the deal.

But now, with Venezuela set to sign an agreement to purchase the system, Israel is concerned that Iran will eventually obtain the S-300.

“This is a real possibility, considering the close ties between Venezuela and Iran,” an Israeli official familiar with the deal said.


Other officials are less concerned by the system and claim that if and when the S-300 is delivered to Iran, Israel will be able to develop an electronic warfare system to neutralize it.

In general, Israel is concerned with the strengthening ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Chavez has visited Iran eight times, most recently last month when he signed a number of agreements aimed at increasing strategic ties between the countries

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