Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday denied reports it was to set to deliver the S-300 air defense systems to Iran on Thursday.
Some Russian media outlets had announced that the first batteries of the S-300 system would be arriving in the Islamic Republic on February 18, despite Western opposition.
The reports, which were unconfirmed, claimed the Iranian defense minister would be present at a transfer ceremony slated to be held behind closed doors.
There were also reports that Russia is set to supply several Sukhoi Su-30SM multi-role fighter jets to Iran as part of an arms deal between the two countries.
“The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit (S-300) missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price enshrined in the contract as of February 16,” a high-ranking representative of the Russian defense ministry told TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, on Wednesday evening.
“Therefore, the presence of the Iranian defense minister in Astrakhan at the mythical ceremony of dispatching the first Favorit systems to Tehran is out of the question,” he added.
Russia and Iran signed a contract for the delivery of five S-300 batteries in 2007. However, in the autumn of 2010, Russia’s then-president Dmitry Medvedev banned the supply of the systems to Tehran amid escalating global sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The contract, worth more than $800 million, was annulled and the advance payment returned to the Iranian side.
Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit in the Court of Arbitration in Geneva over breach of the contract. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow persuaded Tehran to withdraw the lawsuit after “long and tough negotiations.”
In the spring of 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban on S-300 deliveries to Tehran. Iranian media has repeatedly reported on the ostensibly imminent arrival of the batteries.