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Israel’s Concerns About Sale of S-300 Missiles To Iran

By: Meir Javedanfar


This morning I was interviewed by BBC Persian about the recent Israeli response to reports that Russia may be about to sell advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Iran. The interviewer, asked a very valid question: “These weapons are for defensive purposes only. They can not be used to attack Israel. So why is Jerusalem against their sale?”.

This is a valid point and a very fair question to ask. Iranians have every right to know why a foreign government opposes the sale of a weapons system, which is to be used for the defense of their country.

One of Israel’s concerns is that the system would make it much more dangerous for Jerusalem to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, if it decides to. Although the prospect of a military strike is the last and worst option, its still an important tool in the carrots and sticks package which is being offered to Iran. What must be noted however, that this is a long term problem.

The more immediate problem presented by the sale of the S-300 is that it could boost the confidence of Ayatollah Khamenei to the point that he will not take negotiations with the EU, and more importantly with the US seriously. For Israel, the best outcome is if Obama solves the nuclear crisis through negotiations. But if Ayatollah Khamenei knows that there is little which Obama and Israel can do economically, and now militarily thanks to the missiles, then he will be less inclined to take up Obama’s offer for talks, and to reciprocate American gestures. And this would make pre and post nuclear Iran, a much more difficult country to deal with, not just for Israel, but for the Western world.

In Iran, we used to see Russia as a bigger enemy than the US, because over the centuries, Moscow has been responsible for so many land grabs which have cut the size of Iranian territory by thousands of kilometres. Today, some Iranians can be forgiven for thinking that Russia wants to sell these missiles to Ayatollah Khamenei’s government, precisely because it does not want US – Iran talks to succeed. Because if they do, it could come at a cost to Russia’s influence over Iran. An influence, which many Iranians find unfair, and harmful.

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Posted on : Dec 19 2008
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Posted under Iran- Defense, Uncategorized |

Israel: Unmanned Aerial Influence Over Russia?

By: Meir Javedanfar


The report today in Haaretz that Russia is seeking to purchase Israeli-made spy planes is a surprise, to say the least.

It shows how times have changed. Russia, the successor to the mighty USSR for years supplied weapons toUAV Israel’s enemies. It now wants to purchase Israeli weapons.

According to the report, the Russians were impressed by the performance of the Israeli UAVs during the recent Georgian conflict.

The sale of the UAVs will boost the reputation of Israel’s aeronautical industry.

However, there is one area which should not be overlooked.

Russia is considering the sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.

One possibility that Israel will have to take into consideration is that the Russians may reverse engineer the UAVs. And who knows, maybe in a number of years, they will sell their own Israeli copied UAVs to Iran or Syria.

This sale also offers an opportunity. Israel wants to improve its bargaining position with Russia, because Moscow is an important player in the dispute surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, as a member of the Quartet, Russia is an important party in the Israeli – Palestinian peace talks, while its good relations with Damascus add to its influence in the negotiations between Israel and Syria. Last but not least, the recent dispute with Washington, and Russia’s stationing of missiles in Kaliningrad, have added more weight to Russia’s strategic standing.

The sale of UAVs will not be a game changer. But it will most probably provide the Israeli point of view with more sympathy and allies in Moscow, than before. This will be a welcomed change as Israel has until today had very little lobbying power in the Kremlin.

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Posted on : Nov 15 2008
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Posted under Israel Foreign Policy |