(photo credit: AP)
Croatia has recently sold advanced S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, a newspaper in Zagreb reported this week amid conflicting opinions in Israel over whether Teheran has obtained the advanced anti-aircraft system.
According to the Web magazine Necenzurirano, Libyan Naval ships were also docking in the Croatian port city of Kraljevica to transfer the system to Iran.
Israeli defense officials could not confirm the report but said that Croatia is known to have obtained a number of S-300 systems following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The system was reportedly dismantled several years ago although its exact fate was never publicized.
The S-300, a Russian system, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft missile systems in the world today and has 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 27,000 meters.
Israeli officials have not said whether Iran has obtained S-300 systems but has called on Russia not to sell them to Teheran. A top IAF officer recently said that it was not yet clear whether Iran had the system.
Ronen Bergman's The Secret War with Iran, published Tuesday in the US, repeats the claim made in the Hebrew version of the book, published last year, that the Iranians already have S-300s.
"Iran has purchased an enormous number of anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, some of which, according to Mossad sources, are S-300 missiles, considered among the most advanced in the world. These missiles have been deployed around Bushehr and other strategic targets," Bergman writes.
The author continues: "In August 2006, during the war in Lebanon, Israeli satellite photograph decipherers detected changes at several locations in Iran, suggesting strongly that Iran was stepping up its nuclear project. Moreover, many additional anti-aircraft missile batteries were deployed at nuclear sites, and existing ones were replaced with S-300 missiles... By September 2006, no fewer than 26 anti-aircraft missile batteries had been placed around the centrifuge installation at Natanz...."