iranian missile 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli and US officials are extremely concerned by Friday’s report that Russia
intends to sell advanced weapons to Syria, including anti-ship rockets that
could pose a major threat to Israel Navy ships if transferred to
RELATED:Barak signs military deal with RussiaBarak to head to Moscow to prevent missile sale to Syria'Russia to sell Syria weapons'
A defense source told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night
there was a danger that these weapons, which include P-800 Yakhont cruise
missiles, could be used against Israel.
According to the source, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak spoke against the sale with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov when he visited them in Moscow last
week. Barak told them that the weapons could end up with Hizbullah, as has
happened in the past.
During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, four Israeli
sailors were killed when Hizbullah hit the Israel Navy missile boat Hanit with a
Chinese-made surface-to-sea missile that had been sold to Iran and made its way
State Department officials said on Friday that the US had
been in touch with Russia about the planned deal.
“US opposition to arms
sales to state sponsors of terrorism is well known,” said one State Department
official who was asked to comment.
The official added that the US had
been consulting with foreign governments about these and similar sales that have
caused alarm.Barak likely to discuss deal on trip to Washington
The Russian arms sale to Syria is likely to come up during
talks that Barak will hold with US officials during his visit to Washington on
Russia has not been daunted by Israeli and US objections to the
deal. Serdyukov indicated on Friday, while on a visit to Washington, that Moscow
would go ahead with the arms contract, which was formulated in
According to the RIANovosti news agency, Serdyukov said the issue
of missile sales to Syria had been raised during talks with US Defense Secretary
Robert Gates, and that “undoubtedly, the Russian side of the contract would be
He added that he did not believe terrorists could acquire the
Sergei Prikhodko, a senior adviser to Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev, told RIA-Novosti that Moscow would fulfill all agreements it had made
with other countries.
Separately on Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad visited Syria and met there with his counterpart, Bashar
The meeting came two days after Assad sat down with the US special
Middle East envoy George Mitchell in Damascus to discuss starting Syria-Israel
peace talks.Washington, Teheran battle for influence in Syria
The back-to-back trips underscored the battle for influence
in Syria between Washington and Teheran. Seeking to isolate Iran, US President
Barack Obama has tried – unsuccessfully – to pry Syria away from its alliance
with the Islamic Republic.
Speaking in Damascus, Ahmadinejad appeared to
brush aside US efforts to forge a peace deal between Israel and its
He warned that countries in the region would “disrupt”
American and Israeli plans to introduce change to the Middle East, but did not
“Those who want to change the political geography of the
region must know that they will have no place in the future of the region,”
Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iran’s state-run news agency, IRNA. “The
waves of free nations to join this resistance are spreading every
Ahmadinejad said before his visit to Syria that he and Assad would
discuss key areas of conflict and tension in the Middle East, including Iraq,
Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He also told Iranian state TV on Friday
that he and Assad would discuss “the Westerners’ moves in the region,” an
apparent reference to the United States.
“We have to be ready and in
harmony,” he said in an interview, without elaborating.
The US began
reaching out to Syria soon after Obama took office in January 2009, and has made
repeated overtures to Damascus this year, including nominating the first US
ambassador to Syria since 2005 and sending top diplomats to meet with
Mitchell said during his visit to Damascus on Thursday that the US
was determined to reach a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and that the
administration’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict did not
conflict with making peace between Israel and Syria.
Syria and Iran are
both under US pressure because of their support for anti-Israel terrorist
groups. The US also accuses Syria of secret nuclear activities.
leaders stressed the need for Iraqi politicians to overcome disputes that have
delayed the formation of a new government there after national elections in
March, according to Syria’s state news agency, SANA.
called the new Israeli- Palestinian peace talks a failure, according to Iran’s
state-run Press TV. He said Israel had no place in the future of the
The Iranian president was also to stop in Algeria before heading
to New York.
Jerusalem Post staff and AP contributed to this report