Putin Defends Iran Missile Sale as Nuclear Deal Nears Finish

Updated on
Putin: Iran Deal Largely Reached; Defends Arms Sales

Agreement has largely been reached on resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, as he defended a decision to end a ban on delivering missile-defense systems to the Islamic Republic.

Iran is “demonstrating great flexibility and willingness to compromise on the Iranian nuclear program,” and only technical details remain to be resolved by June, Putin said during his live annual call-in program in Moscow.

Russia had chosen to freeze a 2007 contract to sell the S-300 anti-missile systems to Iran in 2010 even though the deal wasn’t covered by United Nations sanctions over the nuclear program, he said. “We see no reason to maintain the ban unilaterally,” Putin said.

Putin ended the embargo on delivery of the S-300 on Monday, prompting objections from the U.S. and Israel. Iran welcomed the decision and said it expected to take delivery of the missile systems before the end of the year.

U.S. military options for potential military action against Iran remain intact even if the Russian missile defense system is delivered, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday at a Pentagon news conference.

U.S. Planning

The U.S. has known about the potential sale for several years and has accounted for it in military planning, Dempsey said. President Barack Obama hasn’t ruled out military action against Iran’s nuclear program if negotiations to curb it fail.

Iran and representatives of Russia, the U.S., China, France, Germany and the U.K. said April 2 that they’d negotiated a political framework in a step toward ensuring the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is restricted to civilian development and can’t be used to build a bomb. The deadline for reaching a final agreement has been set at June 30. Iran denies it’s seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Putin acknowledged Israel is concerned about delivery of the S-300. Russia considers the geopolitical situation in decisions on arms sales and canceled one contract to supply S-300s to another country in the region, returning a $400 million deposit, he said, without identifying that state.

The U.S. sends more arms to the Middle East than Russia, Putin said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE