Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed Israel’s “grave concerns” over Russia’s decision to provide Iran with advanced anti-aircraft missiles in a phone call with President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu warned Putin that providing Iran with S-300 missiles “will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East.”
“This sale of advanced weaponry to Iran is the direct result of the dangerous deal on the table between Iran and the P5+1. Can anyone still seriously claim that the deal with Iran will enhance security in the Middle East?” he said.
A 2007 arms deal between Russia and the Islamic Republic was approved on Monday after the Russian president lifted a ban on the sales. In 2010, under pressure from the West and the UN, the $800 million deal was put on hold by the Kremlin.
Russia said that it is now moving forward with the deal now that Iran and the P5+1 have reached an interim deal on curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
While Putin is said to not be swayed by the prime minister’s words of caution, according to the Kremlin, “Putin stressed that the S-300 missile system is purely defensive and will not pose threat to Israel or any other country in the Middle East.”
Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the prime minister is contemplating an emergency trip to Moscow to meet with Putin and urge him once more to no supply the missiles to Iran. The report also revealed that Israeli pilots have been training in recent years against the S-300 by using the systems of allied nations who already have the technology.
Should Iran obtain the S-300’s, it would make it more difficult to carry out airstrikes on specific targets from the air. The Russian made surface-to-air missile, manufactured by the Russian defense firm Almaz, has the ability to intercept cruise missiles and aircraft. The most advanced model of the S-300 can target ballistic missiles.