Foreign Policy Blogs

Iran Obtains the Game Changing S-300 Missile System from Russia

Tube launchers from an S-400 missile system, similar in function and appearance to the S-300 series of missiles. (ITAR-TASS)

According to Defense-update.com, amateur images have captured a possible shipment of Russian S-300V4 anti-aircraft missiles crossing into Iran from the border region with Azerbaijan near the Caspian Sea. Russia confirmed that the sale of the S-300 system would be fulfilled following the P5+1 Nuclear Agreement. Following the end of the weapons embargo that kept the initial 2007 order from being finalized, Russia has finally acquiesced to Iran’s demand that the sale be completed. The version of the S-300 from the 2007 deal may have changed, the S-300V4 seems to be a more advanced version of the S-300 export and may have some capabilities of the S-400 series of missiles. Due to a lack of technical information, it is unclear what variables may be different in the S-300V4 missile.

While the P5+1 agreement has some restrictions on Iran’s ability to obtain certain weapon systems, there was little information or notable response from the United States on the completion of the S-300 sale so soon after the conclusion of the Nuclear Agreement. Whether the sale of the S-300 violates the terms of the agreement or will become a point of contention remains to be seen.

Officials from the US government have mentioned that the sale may violate the agreement, but with minimal response from the Obama Administration, it is unclear what actions or strategic developments would elicit action by the United States or other signatories to the agreement. Recent missile tests have prompted a response by the signatories, but little action has taken place to address any possible violations at this point.

The S-300V4, and similar versions of the S-300, have been adopted in Syria along the Turkish border after a Russian SU-24 was shot down last year. With capabilities to shoot down not only aircrafts, but also other ballistic missiles, it is possible that the S-300 may change the strategic plans of regional players that wish to challenge Syrian and Iranian air defenses or future ballistic missile systems. With the Russian military still being very active in the region, it is likely part of a wider strategic plan to place Russia as the dominant foreign power in the region ahead of the US and NATO. While systems like the S-300 may never be fired in combat, medium and long range surface to air missile systems are often a better strategic weapon than an actual weapon of war, producing more significant results than many treaty agreements.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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