Iran aims to buy fighter jets, advanced tanks from Russia
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Iran aims to buy fighter jets, advanced tanks from Russia

Defense minister reportedly taking arms shopping list to his meet with Moscow counterpart later this month

Iranian Defense Minister Hassan Dehghan, right, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu attend a press conference in Tehran in January 2015. (screen capture: AFP)
Iranian Defense Minister Hassan Dehghan, right, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu attend a press conference in Tehran in January 2015. (screen capture: AFP)

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan is planning to raise the purchase of warplanes and tanks during an upcoming meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars reported Friday, citing Russian media.

An official at the Iranian Embassy in Moscow said it was “quite possible” that the April 26-27 talks between Dehghan and Sergei Shoigu would include the issue, Fars said, again quoting the Interfax news agency.

According to the reports, the Islamic Republic is eyeing the Su-30SM jet, a “two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft,” which is suitable “for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions,” as well as the advanced T-90 tank.

Discussions on the sale of the jets to Iran began last month, Fars said.

Russia has also sold to Iran the advanced S-300 air defense system, which offers long-range protection against both airplanes and missiles, although it has yet to be delivered.

In 2010, Russia froze the deal to supply the system to Iran, linking the decision to UN sanctions instituted over Tehran’s nuclear program. But Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the suspension in July 2015, following Iran’s deal with world powers that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international embargoes.

Israel has long sought to block the sale of the S-300, which analysts say could impede a potential future Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities. Other officials have expressed concern that the systems could reach Syria and Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s regional air supremacy.

The S-300 is expected to be on the agenda when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday to discuss regional security issues.

According to Israel’s Ynet news website, other topics under discussion will include Syria, where Russian troops have been supporting the regime of embattled President Bashar Assad, and the ongoing Israeli conflict with the Palestinians.

Undated photo of a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP, File)
Undated photo of a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (AP, File)

Putin told President Reuven Rivlin in their own meeting in Moscow last month that Russia and Israel “have a large number of questions to discuss linked with the development of bilateral trade and economic relations and questions of the region’s security,” according to Russian reports.

Netanyahu last visited Putin in September 2015, shortly after Russia began its military buildup in Syria, to discuss coordination between the countries’ militaries over Syria’s crowded skies.

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