Russia may sell advanced anti-air missiles to Iran despite U.S. threats: Ambassador

Russia’s ambassador to Iran has said Moscow will consider selling its advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to Tehran, despite U.S. objections and threats.

Ambassador Levan Jagarian told the Resalatdaily newspaper Sunday that Russia would have “no problem” selling S-400 systems to Iran when the United Nation arms embargo on the country expires on October 18, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported.

“We are not afraid of U.S. threats and we will live up to our commitments,” Jagarian said, explaining that Russia will properly consider Iranian arms requests despite continued pressure from the U.S. for nations to further isolate Tehran.

President Donald Trump‘s administration has failed in a push to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, put in place as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal—which Trump withdrew from in 2018.

The Trump administration claimed the arms embargo lapse would further destabilize the region, and said Iran would immediately begin purchasing weapons for the regional proxies Tehran uses to further its foreign policy.

The U.S. suggested Iranian-supplied weapons would flood into Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and other areas where Tehran arms affiliated militant groups.

But Washington failed to garner support from its fellow Security Council members, even including traditional European allies like the U.K. and France. This prompted an angry attack from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft, who said America’s European allies “now stand in the company of terrorists.”

Russia and China have been instrumental in frustrating American efforts to deepen its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Both stand to reap the rewards in weapons sales, and already Iran fields much Russian and Chinese military equipment.

The S-400 has become a key export item for Moscow—much to the chagrin of the U.S. which has repeatedly protested sales to NATO ally Turkey, a deal that prompted a falling out between Washington, D.C. and Ankara.

The S-400 entered service in 2007 and the longest range of its four missiles travels as fast as Mach 15 and can engage targets at a distance of 250 miles and an altitude of over 98,000 feet. It is widely considered one of, if not the most, advanced operational anti-aircraft system in the world.

As well as Turkey, China and Belarus already field the S-400. India has agreed a deal to purchase S-400s—prompting threats of American sanctions—while Saudi Arabia is reportedly also in discussions with Moscow about the system.

Russia has previously said it is willing to sell the S-400 to Iran, but that no official request has yet been made. U.S.-Iran tensions prompted some in Iran to call for an S-400 deal as soon as possible amid fears of American airstrikes on the country.

*story by NewsWeek