Russia announced Monday it has signed a contract with Iran to sell the country S-300 surface-to-air missiles, much to the dismay of Israel who strongly opposes the deal.
Critics fear the country will use the long-range missiles to protect Iran’s nuclear sites from aerial attacks, changing the balance of power in the Middle East.
According to Michaela Dodge, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, the transaction will make it harder for countries like the Uniter States and Israel to take military action if needed.
“The nature of deployment in Iran would be defensive and trying to prevent the capability of our air force to operate there as it may be capable of operating today,” Arieh Herzog, a former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Program, told the Associated Press. “There will be a dramatic change in their capability and it does not create a reasonable environment for any operation of our air force.”
A similar $800 million deal between the countries signed in 2007 was blocked in 2010, but Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban in April in response to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
The weapon was designed by Russia to take down enemy aircraft or other missiles.
“The revival of the S-300 deal may be a signal that Russia can undermine Western interests through arms transfers if its own vital interests are not respected,” said Michael Eisenstadt and Brenda Shaffer of the Washington Institute in a policy analysis. “The move may also be a reminder that Russia is the only country willing and able to meet Iran’s military needs.”
Russian officials maintain the sale won’t put Israel or any other Middle Eastern countries at risk, according to the AP.
Delivery of the systems is expected to begin by the end of 2016, the Financial Times reports.
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