Russia has reportedly begun delivery of the first components in the new S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries to the Iranian regime as part of a larger military build-up utilizing a portion of the financial windfall the mullahs received from the nuclear deal reached last July allowing previously frozen deals to now go through.
The $800 million contract originally signed in 2007 was frozen due to international sanctions in 2010, but was unfrozen last year in the wake of the nuclear agreement.
The S-300, made by Rostec, can be used against multiple targets including jets, or to shoot down other missiles. It is one of the most advanced medium-range defensive weapons in the world. It can engage multiple aircraft at low to high altitude, up to 90 miles away. It is battle tested and in high demand from militaries around the world.
The S-300V4 variant, delivered to the Russian armed forces in 2014, can shoot down any medium-range missile in the world today, flies at five times the speed of sound and has a range of 400km (249 miles), Russia’s Tass news agency reports.
In addition to the S-300, Iran plans to license production of the Russian T-90 tank and has expressed interest in front-line Russian fighters like the SU-34. Russia is also assisting Iranian regime in rebuilding its nuclear energy capability.
The significant rebuilding and upgrading of Iran’s military capability in both offensive and defensive categories comes at the same time the regime has test fired new ballistic missile designs capable of carrying nuclear, chemical or biological payloads reaching deep into Europe, Africa and Asia.
The introduction of advanced missiles, anti-aircraft batteries, fighter jets and battle tanks clearly indicate the Iranian regime’s desire to significantly improve its combat capabilities as well as its military reach far beyond its own borders.
The delivery of S-300 systems is problematic for the U.S. and other nations concerned over Iran’s nuclear program since one of the promises made by the Iran lobby during nuclear talks was that the West would still retain the ability to bomb out of existence any illegal nuclear program. The introduction of the new missile systems makes such a response that much more difficult and protects the regime from military response should it cheat.
This points out the serious flaw in the arguments posed by Iran lobby supporters such as the National Iranian American Council and the Ploughshares Fund; by separating other corresponding acts by the regime – such as support of terrorism or proxy wars from the nuclear talks – the mullahs were empowered to engage in other provocative acts with impunity.
The next link in the chain of restrictions the mullahs are trying to break now involves accessing the international financial system, specifically trading and exchanging in and out of U.S. currency markets which would allow the mullahs to engage in commerce worldwide.
But many foreign banks remain uncertain about allowing the regime into their systems since the U.S. government still has sanctions in place related to Iran’s support of terrorism. This has proven to be a sore spot for the mullahs to such an extent that leaders such as Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani have made the issue of access to U.S. dollars almost a “red line” in the sand and have threatened to walk away from the nuclear deal and restart its nuclear program.
It is clear however from the regime’s actions since the deal, that the mullahs have every intention of breaking the deal anyway after they get everything they want from West.
That possibility was only reinforced by repeated statements by senior regime leaders about its ballistic missile program, the most recent coming from regime foreign minister Javad Zarif who rejected making any concessions to the international community on the missile topic according to the Guardian newspaper.
“Secretary Kerry and the U.S. State Department know well that Iran’s missile and defense capabilities are not open to negotiation,” state media quoted Zarif as saying during a joint press conference with his visiting Estonian counterpart.
Meanwhile the regime continues a broad human rights crackdown at home and has now reached out beyond its borders to focus on its oldest enemies; Iranian dissident groups that have long worked to oppose the regime and bring democratic reforms to Iran.
German prosecutors on Friday accused two Iranian men, 31-year-old Maysam P. and 33-year-old Saied R., of spying on the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on behalf of Iranian intelligence.
Prosecutors said both men infiltrated MEK with Maysam P. starting in January 2013 and Saied R. in August 2014 to gather information for Iranian intelligence on opposition members in Germany and other EU countries.
The NCRI welcomed “the fact that German prosecutor has brought the case of espionage targeting PMOI and NCRI to justice and calls on the German government and relevant officials to disclose and make public the details of the case of espionage and illegal activities of the Iranian regime and its agents in Germany. This is an imperative step to prevent these criminal activities.”
The crazy nature of the see-saw back and forth between lifting sanctions and imposing sanctions was highlighted as the European Union announced the extension of sanctions against 82 Iranian regime officials until 2017 because of deteriorating human rights in Iran.
The 28-nation bloc has had asset freezes and travel bans in place against Iranians since 2011 because of perceived violations of human rights.
By Michael Tomlinson