President Vladimir Putin’s arms trade adviser says Russia has begun delivering S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.
Tass quoted Vladimir Kozhin as saying Thursday that the implementation of the contract for the delivery of the S-300s has begun and the deliveries have started. He didn’t provide any specifics.
One of the most sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons in the world, the S-300 is capable of tracking multiple planes at once, and some versions have an interception range of up to 200 kilometers.
In 2010 Russia froze a deal to supply advanced long-range S-300 missile systems to Iran, linking the decision to UN sanctions. Putin lifted the suspension earlier this year following Iran’s deal with six world powers that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Officials said last month that Russia and Iran finalized the contract for their delivery.
Israel has long sought to block the sale to Iran of the S-300 system, which analysts say could impede a potential Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities. Other officials have expressed concern that the systems could reach Syria and Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s regional air supremacy.
Russia initially agreed to sell the system to Iran in 2007 but then balked, saying at the time it was complying with a United Nations arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.
In April, shortly after the announcement of the Lausanne outline for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, Russia announced it was lifting the ban on selling the advanced missile defense system to Iran, over American and Israeli objections.
In August, Iran and Russia announced that the system would be delivered by the end of the year, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov saying at the time that “just technical details” remained to be agreed upon.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.