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Iran holds talks with Russia over missile defense upgrade

Russian S-300 anti-missile rocket system move along a central street during a rehearsal for a military parade in Moscow May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

Iran negotiated with Russia at the weekend over buying an upgraded version of the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system, which it requires to meet its military needs, a foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran was quoted as saying.

Iran was blocked from obtaining the S-300 before it reached a deal with world powers last July on curbing its nuclear program, with Russia having canceled a contract to deliver an older version of the system in 2010 under pressure from the West.

Russia now hopes to reap economic and trade benefits from the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions on Iran last month.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Tehran on Sunday.

Commenting on the visit, ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari told state news agency IRNA: “Iran is negotiating with Russia for providing its military needs… One of the main issues is buying the next-generation S-300 missile system.”

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying by the Fars agency on Feb. 10 that Iran would start taking delivery of the S-300 within two months.

Iran has also shown interest in buying the more advanced S-400 system, though no negotiations were being conducted at the moment, Russia’s RIA news agency reported last week.

It was not clear if by “next generation” Ansari was referring to the S-400, which Russia says can hit missiles and aircraft up to 400 km (250 miles) away.

Israel has expressed “dismay” at Russia’s decision to lift the ban on supplying S-300 missiles to Iran, which does not recognize Israel as a nation and has said it will use all its power to destroy it.

Ansari also said Shoigu met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday to convey “President (Vladimir) Putin’s special message …regarding bilateral relations and some regional issues.”

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by John Stonestreet)

Nuclear Deal in Place, Iran is Testing New Missiles and Doubling Down in Syria

First published on Foreign Policy here.

During festivities this month marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution, officials publicly displayed a mock-up of the country’s latest rocket, the Simorgh. Designed to launch a satellite into space, it bears a striking resemblance to the rocket North Korea just used for its own satellite launch, reinforcing concerns that Tehran is working with Pyongyang to develop advanced ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe.

Iran’s unabashed pursuit of missile technology is the latest example of how the country is asserting itself in the aftermath of the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran signed in July with the United States and five other major powers. While U.S. officials say Iran has so far abided by the nuclear accord, Tehran in recent months has been flouting separate international restrictions on ballistic missiles and arms imports while expanding its support for militants in the region.

Iran has recently conducted two ballistic missile tests despite a U.N. ban and appears poised to launch its new Simorgh rocket. Western intelligence agencies fear Iran is working its way to building an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could eventually be outfitted with an atomic warhead — if Tehran were to opt out of the nuclear agreement.

News reporter gets angry and speaks truth about corrupt politicians

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