Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Iran To Buy Russian Air Defense System Via Syria

Syria has agreed to supply Iran with at least 10 out of 50 air defense systems that Damascus is in the process of buying from Russia, Jane's Defense Weekly reported in this week's edition. The weekly publication quoted a source close to the deal as saying that while most of the Pantsyr-S1E systems were earmarked for Syrian Air Defense Command, "the end user for 10 of the systems is Tehran." The source said Moscow had not been officially notified of the reported Syrian arrangement with Tehran, which flowed from a November 2005 strategic accord between the two countries on military and technological cooperation. Jane's said Iran would take delivery of the systems in late 2008. To reward Syria for its middleman role, Tehran would part-finance Syria's Pantsyrs as well as paying for its own.Iran is locked in confrontation with the United States over its developing nuclear program and delivered its latest warning to Washington last week that it would retaliate severely if attacked. Iran denies U.S. accusations that it is trying to build atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Washington emphasises it wants to resolve the standoff through diplomacy, but has not ruled out military action to destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Jane's said Syria struck a $730 million deal with Russia earlier this year for some 50 Pantsyr-S1E self-propelled short-range gun and missile air defense systems. Russia, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with veto power, is a key player in international diplomacy over Iran's nuclear ambitions. A Security Council resolution in March urged all states to exercise "vigilance and restraint" in the supply, sale or transfer of weaponry to Iran, including missile systems.