Global Insights: Russia, Iran, and Washington Battle Over S-300s

By Richard Weitz, on , Column

Will Russia supply Iran with the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile system? That is the most important -- and persistent -- question regarding Russia's ongoing arms sales to Iran. The repeated rumors and confusion regarding a possible sale indicate that Russian policymakers are divided over the issue. It also illustrates the degree of mistrust between the Russian and Iranian national security communities over the subject of bilateral arms transfers in general, and disagreement over the extent to which Moscow should support Iranian defense aspirations over American and Israeli objections in particular.

The "S-300" family encompasses a range of specific models that the USSR and Russia have manufactured for the last three decades. They have varying capabilities, with the most advanced version (the truck-mounted S-300PMU1, designated as the SA-20 Gargoyle by NATO countries), capable of tracking and firing several interceptor missiles at multiple targets --including both cruise missiles and aircraft -- over a hundred kilometers away. ...

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