The decision to lift the delivery freeze comes after Iran and the P5+1, including Russia agreed a framework deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
The S-300 air defence system could provide a significant impediment to carrying out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a threat which forms the core of Israel’s deterrence policy.
It has been reported that the Kremlin briefed Israel on its decision a short while before announcing the move. An Israeli official said that Israel is worried components of the air-defense system will be transferred to Syria and Hezbollah, seriously hamstringing the air force’s ability to dominate the skies over Lebanon or Syria.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to raise the US’s objections over the air-defense missile systems deal with Iran.White House press secretary Josh Earnest indicated the move could endanger plans to ultimately lift sanctions on Iran as part of a final nuclear deal. The Pentagon also expressed concern about the move, saying it was “Our opposition to these sales is long and public. We believe it’s unhelpful,”
In 2007 Russia signed a contract to sell Iran the S-300 system, but the weaponry was not delivered amid strong objections by the United States and Israel. In 2010, Russia blocked deliveries of the surface-to-air missiles to Iran after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program which barred hi-tech weapons sales. This resulted in Iran filing a $4-billion suit against Russia at an arbitration court in Geneva.
Despite the dispute over the S-300 missiles, Moscow and Iran have remained on good terms, with Russia agreeing to build new nuclear reactors for Tehran and both sides supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.