Defense Ministry official in Moscow amid concerns over possible S-300 sale to Islamic Republic.
By YAAKOV KATZ, JPOST.COM STAFFPublished: DECEMBER 18, 2008 23:20Advertisement
Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, on Friday urged Russia not to sell weapons to Iran that could be used to attack Israel.
The Interfax news agency quoted Gilad as saying Israel expects Russia to respect his country's interests.
"The deliveries of dangerous armaments to our enemies won't serve the interests of peace and, for instance, can help Iran wipe Israel off the face of earth," Gilad was quoted as saying. "So we expect Russia to demonstrate responsibility on the issue."
Gilad was visiting Moscow and was quoted in response to a question about possible deliveries of the Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.
Some Russian media have claimed that a deal has already been struck to sell the missiles.
According to Interfax, Gilad denied allegations that Russia and Israel had struck a secret deal under which Israel would abstain from selling weapons to Georgia and Russia wouldn't sell weapons to Iran.
He added, however, that Israel would take Russia's interests into account. "And we expect a similar approach from Russia," he was quoted as saying.
A Russian defense official, who was quoted this week as saying that arms sales to Iran created regional stability, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he had not been referring to the sale of the S-300 system.
The S-300 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 90,000 feet.
The article, which appeared Wednesday in the RIA news agency, quoted Alexander Fomin, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying that weapons sales to Iran "have a positive impact on stability in this region."
The RIA report quoted additional unnamed sources as saying that Russia was planning to finalize a contract for the sale of the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, a move that would severely impair an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.
On Thursday, Fomin told the Post in a phone interview from his office in Moscow that he had not been referring to the S-300 when he made the comment.
"See my interview," he said. "It was not [about] the S-300."
Despite the clarification, Fomin would not say that Russia would refrain from selling the system to Iran.
The S-300 system was first deployed by the USSR in 1979 and was designed to defend large industrial and administrative facilities and military bases, and to control airspace against enemy aircraft.
There are a number of countries throughout Europe in possession of the system, including Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Kazakhstan, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Ukraine and possibly Croatia.
"We are learning the system, to be ready if Russia decides to sell it to Iran," the official said.
In June, the IAF flew 100 F-15 and F-16 fighter jets 1,400 kilometers over Greece in what was described as a "dress rehearsal" for an air strike against Iranian nuclear installations. Media reports claimed that the exercise had been conducted so Israeli fighter jets could study the S-300, which is reportedly deployed on the island of Crete.
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