Statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Russian President’s decision to lift the ban on selling S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran, Moscow, April 13, 2015
The Russian President’s executive order on lifting restrictions on deliveries of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran enters into effect today.
The background of the issue is as follows. The original decision to freeze the contract, which had already been signed and had entered into operation, was made in September 2010. It was done to support the consolidated efforts of the G6 group of international intermediaries and to promote a maximally practical negotiation process on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme (INP). I would like to lay special emphasis on the fact that this was done absolutely voluntarily. The Security Council’s Resolution 1929, which was approved in 2010, as well as any other UN resolutions, did not impose any restrictions on shipments of air defence weapons to Iran. I would like to point out again that it was done in the spirit of good will to promote progress at the talks.
Almost five years have passed. In Lausanne on April 2 of this year, the G6 group of international intermediaries acknowledged meaningful progress in the INP settlement. The political framework of the final arrangement was coordinated, which was highly appreciated everywhere on the international arena. In many respects, the result was achieved due to the G6’s consolidated efforts to guarantee a political settlement of this very serious problem.
We are convinced that at this stage this kind of embargo, especially a separate Russian free-will embargo, is completely irrelevant. I’ll point out that the S-300 surface-to-air complex, which is a completely defensive weapon, is not adapted for aggression and will not endanger the security of any state in the region, certainly including Israel.
Meanwhile, taking into consideration the extremely tense situation in the region around Iran, modern air defence systems are vitally important for the country. Last week’s rapid and alarming developments in the military situation around Yemen particularly testify to this. It stands to reason that we could not overlook commercial and reputational aspects. As a result of freezing the contract, Russia lost large amounts of money. We do not see any obligation to continue this policy, considering the progress in the talks on the INP settlement and the absolutely legitimate character of the forthcoming deal.