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Iran has deployed Russian-supplied S-300 air defense systems at one of its military bases, the country’s defense minister announced. This apparently finalizes an almost decade-long saga surrounding the controversial shipment.
The long-range S-300 system was placed at Iran’s Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said as cited by the Tasnim news agency. The general added that the domestically-produced Bavar-373 has characteristics similar to the S-300 and would be mass-produced later this year. Earlier in April 2016, Iran showed off several elements of the Russian surface-to-air complex during the National Army Day parade in Tehran.
Russia and Iran signed a contract for supply of S-300 systems in 2007, but Moscow canceled it after Iran was accused by several nations of clandestinely developing nuclear weapons. The move was reportedly made under pressure from the US and Israel, which were concerned that Russian weapons would prevent a possible surprise airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Moscow said at the time that the delivery of S-300 would upset the balance of power in the region and escalate tensions. The contract was revived last year after significant progress had been made in nuclear talks between Iran and six leading world powers, including Russia. A deal that puts restraints on Iran’s ability to create a nuclear device, was later signed.
The version of the S-300 system supplied to Iran is more advanced than the one it paid for under the initial contract. In mid-April 2016, Russia announced the shipment of the missiles had already started and that the deal would be fully closed before the end of the year.