One year after nuclear deal, Iran receives S-300 missiles

Iran is now receiving the missile parts of the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system from Russia.

al-monitor Belarussian S-300 mobile missile launching systems drive in a military parade during Independence Day celebrations in Minsk, July 3, 2013. One year after the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, Iran is receiving shipments of the S-300 missile defense system from Russia. Photo by REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko.
Arash Karami

Arash Karami


Topics covered

united states, s-300, nuclear deal, mohammad javad zarif, missile defense system, iran-russian relations, hassan rouhani, abbas aragchi

Jul 18, 2016

One year after the signing of the comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, a number of obstacles surrounding the landmark deal remain, most notably the remaining US sanctions on Iran that were not part of the deal. While Iran's top nuclear negotiators have been making media rounds selling the achievements of the deal to the Iranian public, which will be heading for voting booths in 10 months to elect a president, the delivery of the Russian S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile defense system stands out as one particular obstacle that has been removed as a result of the nuclear deal.

According to the Tasnim News Agency, the missiles for the S-300 have been shipped to Iran. In April, Iran's Foreign Ministry announced that the first phase of the delivery of the missile defense system had begun, just four months after implementation of the nuclear deal and one year after Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban on the sale of the system as the result of the interim deal in the nuclear negotiations. On July 1, Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, said the S-300 missile defense system would be fully operational by March 2017.

Tehran and Moscow had initially agreed to the S-300 deal in 2007, worth $800 million, but delivery was held up by UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting the sale of high-tech weapons to Iran. This led Iran to file a complaint with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who led the nuclear negotiations on behalf of Iran, spoke to Iranian television about the one-year anniversary of the deal. "If we want to give a grade to the BARJAM [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], in consideration of the time passed and international situation certainly, it will receive a good grade," Zarif said. "But if we want to give a grade to the method of implementation by the Americans, likely they will receive a low grade."

According to Zarif, some of the most significant accomplishments of the nuclear deal are that Iran's right to enrichment was recognized, UN Security Council resolutions against the country were removed and new sanctions against Iran were avoided. He added that in every agreement, most sides must leave happy, and there are no agreements where both sides acquire everything they want.

Abbas Araghchi, a nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister, spoke to the Young Journalists Club about some of the compromises Iran had had to make as a result of the nuclear deal. "No one can accuse us of making rogue decisions," Araghchi said. "On certain matters, red lines were moved [from one place to another], the first one being that all the sanctions would be removed. The Americans said that the administration cannot remove all the sanctions passed by Congress. If we would have insisted, it would have meant us not coming to an agreement. On two or three matters, the foreign minister [Zarif] gave reports to the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], and the red lines were moved. It was not like this that we took rogue actions."

Araghchi’s statement coincides with comments made by Khamenei in March on the occasion of the Iranian New Year. During that speech, Khamenei said that Zarif had told him that during the nuclear negotiations, "We were not able to maintain some of the red lines."

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