Russia: Sanctions Don't Affect S-300 Sale

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Russia's Foreign Ministry retracted an earlier announcement it had frozen the sale of the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran in the wake of the latest U.N. sanctions passed on Wednesday.

An Interfax news agency report claimed the sale had been frozen under the U.N.'s fourth set of sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program.

"The U.N. Security Council decision is binding for all countries, and Russia is no exception," an unnamed Russian arms industry ministry source said, according to Interfax. "Naturally the contract to deliver S-300 missile systems will be frozen."

But Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andre Nesterenko said the sale of S-300s is not prohibited by the new sanctions because the missiles are defensive weapons.

"The S-300 system is not included in the U.N. resolution on Iran because the resolution includes certain qualifications regarding different types of weapons," Nesterenko said. "I can say defense systems are not included," he said.

Both Israel and the U.S. have objected to the deal, first agreed upon in December 2005, saying it would embolden Iranian impunity in the development of nuclear weapons.

Last week, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi warned that Russia would lose its credibility internationally if it failed to follow through with the S-300 missile sale.

"We expect Russia to fulfill its obligations," Sajjadi said.

"If Russia fails to deliver the S-300 defense missiles to Iran, it will lose its credibility as a reliable arms supplier," he said.

The U.N.'s fourth set of sanctions, passed on Wednesday, bans the sale of missiles that would enhance Iran's nuclear weapons capability.

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