Posts Tagged 'S-300'

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“New reports of Saudi-Israeli military cooperation against Iran”

The Times reports that Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Israel to use its airspace in an attack on Iran, conducting tests to disengage its air defenses against Israeli jets (Times). Israel and Saudi Arabia have both denied the reports (Asharq Alawsat, Haaretz).
Similar reports have surfaced before, including the summer of last year (Times, Huffington Post).

“Looking for next steps after UN sanctions”
Amid widespread criticism over the efficacy of sanctions, Matthew Levitt counters that the new UN sanctions were precisely targeted and pave the way for additional US and European sanctions (Foreign Policy). The US and the EU already imposed new sanctions this week (Reuters, AP).
However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Germany increased its exports to Iran in the first quarter, pointing out that enforcement remains a key challenge (Wall Street Journal). David Sanger writes that the US, facing expectations that the latest sanctions will fail to stop Iran’s nuclear program, is also implementing strategies involving military containment and the luring away of Iran’s nuclear experts (New York Times).

“Russia keeps options open on S-300 sale”
An unnamed Russian source claims Russia is freezing a contract to sell S-300 air defense missiles to Iran based on the stipulations of the latest UN sanctions (AFP). However, the Foreign Ministry and other officials have indicated that the sanctions will not affect the contract (RIA Novosti, RT). Oliver Bloom details how the sanctions would not specifically prohibit the sale of the S-300 and only call for “vigilance and restraint” over the transfer of arms (CSIS).
Russia’s failure to deliver the system since the contract was first disclosed in 2007 has been a point of friction with Iran (Reuters). Russia is now offering the S-300 system to Turkey as well (RIA Novosti).

“Vienna Group, Iran send cautious signals on fuel swap”
President Ahmadinejad indicated Tehran’s willingness to pursue nuclear negotiations with major powers but promised that conditions for such talks would be announced soon (AFP). US officials also stated that the nuclear fuel swap deal could be the basis for negotiations, and Laura Rozen points out that the Vienna Group’s list of concerns regarding the Tehran Declaration could be interpreted as a “position paper” for potential future talks (Politico).
Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament called on the government to continue enriching uranium to 20% in response to “the bullying countries” (AFP).

“Green Movement unable to truly challenge state”
The one-year anniversary of last year’s controversial reelection of President Ahmadinejad was marked by “sporadic but minor clashes” in Tehran after opposition leaders cancelled protests (Al Jazeera). With the government appearing to be stable after surviving its internal instability, Juan Cole analyzes the Green Movement’s limitations and argues that the US should engage with the current regime in direct negotiations (Informed Comment).
Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett accuse Western journalists of overestimating the Green Movement’s strength (Foreign Policy). However, Karim Sadjadpour argues that the government has been delegitimized and faces stark economic challenges, and the Green Movement represents a long-term effort toward civil rights (Carnegie Endowment).

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Sanctions rock Iran-Russia relations but not contracts”
Iran and Russia are clashing in one of their “worst rows” since the Cold War after President Ahmadinejad sharply criticized Russia for supporting UN sanctions, leading Moscow to accuse Ahmadinejad of “political demagoguery” (Reuters).
Russian officials have indicated that their support for additional UN sanctions will not interfere with existing contracts for the Bushehr nuclear power plant and the S-300 defense systems. However, some analysts argue that Iran-Russia relations are deteriorating and the investments are mainly aimed to demonstrate Russia’s independent foreign policy (Christian Science Monitor).

“Rise of regional powers challenges Western order”
Last week’s Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement is being seen as a high-profile example of the rise of middle-sized powers pursuing interests that contradict those of traditional powers. James Traub argues that the US and other Western powers may have to promote the “democratization” of international institutions in order to avoid clashes of interest with rising powers (Foreign Policy). Emile Hokayem writes that while the West must recognize these rising powers, Turkey and Brazil must also help bear the security and political costs of maintaining Middle East stability (The National).
Today’s Zaman interviews several academics who believe Turkey’s active regional policy will continue even after the current Justice and Development Party loses power (Today’s Zaman).

“Is Iran reaching out to US?”
The US remains sharply critical of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, while Iran threatens to withdraw from the deal if UN sanctions are imposed. However, Scott Peterson suggests that Iran may be signalling its wish to resolve tensions with the US over its nuclear program and avoid sanctions (Christian Science Monitor).
Iran officially notified the IAEA of the deal earlier this week.

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
“Feb. 11: Victory for regime over Green Movement”
The Iranian regime stifled opposition protests and held large pro-government rallies on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic (Al Jazeera, Informed Comment). The National Iranian American Council liveblogged the day’s developments (NIAC). Juan Cole believes the momentum is “now with the regime” (Informed Comment (2)), while Marc Lynch argues against expecting “regime change from below” in Iran (Marc Lynch).

“Turkey’s balancing act may soon face test on Iran” (Reuters)
Ibon Villelabeitia believes that a UNSC vote on sanctions against Iran will force Turkey to “take sides” on the Iranian nuclear issue despite its efforts to maintain ties with both Iran and the West.

“Serious Play: War Games Explore Options on Iran” (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Jeffrey White and Loring White outline the results of three recent “war games” conducted by US and Western analysts to explore strategies for the Iranian nuclear issue. The authors argue that the results, which uniformly saw Iran undeterred in its nuclear efforts, indicate that the US must strongly support regime change and openly consider a military option.
See also our previous coverage (“Simulation results call for pressuring Iran through diplomacy, not sanctions”)

“Iran claims advancements in uranium enrichment, air defense”
Iran claims to have become a “threshold nuclear state” capable of enriching uranium to any level (MEMRI). Iran also announced it is developing an air defense system more sophisticated than the undelivered Russian S-300 system (Uskowi on Iran, RIA Novosti). The IAEA reportedly considers Iran’s recent enrichment activities, which were conducted in the absence of agency inspectors, as a technical violation of existing agreements (New York Times).

“Military option continues to provide Israel leverage against Iran, US”

“Military option continues to provide Israel leverage against Iran, US”
November 23 & 24, 2009
     Steven Simons asses the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that Israel, while wary of the possibility of war with Iran and strained ties with the US, can and will act if it perceives an imminent existential threat from a nuclear Iran. Simons argues that an Israeli attack would harm US interests and urges the US to remain engaged in multilateral efforts to pressure and contain Iran while providing Israel reassurances, rather than warnings, regarding the durability of their “special relationship” (Council on Foreign Relations).
     Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently stated that the US and Israel “don’t even think about [attacking Iran],” claiming that neither has the “courage” (Uskowi on Iran). On Sunday, Iran started a 5-day defense exercise involving the Revolutionary Guard and covering an area a third the size of Iran (Global Security Newswire). Due to the delayed delivery of Russia’s S-300 antiaircraft missiles [previously covered here], Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told reporters Iran plans to design and produce indigenous air-defense missiles (Associated Press).
Council on Foreign Relations | Uskowi on Iran | Global Security Newswire | Associated Press

“Uranium export negotiations in ‘extra innings’ of proposals and counterproposals”

“Uranium export negotiations in ‘extra innings’ of proposals and counterproposals”
November 6-10, 2009
     Despite earlier reports that Iran has rejected US and IAEA proposals to send Iran’s LEU stockpile to Turkey, RIA Novosti reports that Iran and Turkey are discussing the deal as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Istanbul (RIA Novosti). David Sanger earlier wrote that Iran had offered the US and the IAEA an unsuccessful counterproposal to store the stockpile on an island that is part of Iran. According to Sanger, US officials have “all but lost hope” that the uranium export agreement can be implemented, although some see potential in Russia’s efforts to advance the deal (New York Times). Other reports indicate Iran is pursuing a “two-staged, simultaneous exchange” of a total of 800 kg of LEU for around 60 kg of nuclear fuel (PressTV).
     In response to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s renewed indication of potential sanctions, senior Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi warned Russia to deliver its S-300 missiles [previously covered here] (Associated Press). Meanwhile, US officials have publicly indicated the need to “give some space to Iran” to resolve domestic debate over the agreement [previously covered here] (Reuters). Roger Cohen warns that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who “has the trust of both [Iran and the US],” will not be around much longer to act as a mediator (New York Times (2)).
RIA Novosti | New York Times | PressTV | Associated Press | Reuters | New York Times (2)

“Saudi Arabia taking larger role in pressuring Iran”

“Saudi Arabia taking larger role in pressuring Iran”
October 1-7, 2009
     Saudi Arabia is reportedly close to signing a deal worth $4-7 billion to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defense system under the condition that Russia does not sell its S-300 system to Iran. Analysts believe the deal is part of a wider effort by Saudi Arabia to diversify its list of arms suppliers (United Press International, Agence France-Presse). In an overview of Iran’s attempts to purchase Russia’s S-300 system [previously covered here], Christian Caryl argues that Russia will not want to lose its position as the leading arms supplier to Iran, adding that China has reportedly offered Iran a “cheaper knockoff” of the Russian S-300 (Foreign Policy). The GCC is hoping to use economic incentives to persuade Russia and China to isolate Iran [previously reported here].
     Iranian website Asr-e Iran reports that the US is urging Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to lower prices and pressure China to agree to sanctions against Iran (MEMRI). However, in an earlier analysis, Simon Henderson argues that Riyadh is satisfied with current oil prices and concerned that sharp price fluctuations could undermine global economic recovery, while the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil company will protect its monopoly on exploration and production against Chinese investors (Washington Institute for Near East Policy).
United Press International | Agence France-Presse | Foreign Policy | MEMRI | Washington Institue for Near East Policy

“Russia’s ‘double game’ on the Iranian nuclear issue”

“Russia’s ‘double game’ on the Iranian nuclear issue”
September 4-10, 2009
     Barak Ravid reports that China and Russia rejected proposals for additional sanctions against Iran during last week’s meeting of the P5+1 states [previously covered here]. The remaining states agreed that EU sanctions would likely be necessary given the unlikelihood of UNSC sanctions (Haaretz). Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that negotiations and diplomacy were the only solutions (Xinhua) and, in a critique of other P5+1 members, described accusations that the IAEA is withholding evidence against Iran [previously covered here] as “unacceptable” (RIA Novosti).
     William Tobey believes that Russia, while concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, hopes international tensions will continue to boost arms sales to Iran and raise the price of oil, another source of export revenue. Tobey adds that the Iranian nuclear issue also enables Russia to maintain some of its waning influence in the Middle East and extract concessions from the US on issues such as missile defense and arms control. Tobey argues that contrary to Russia’s calculations, the Iranian nuclear issue will strengthen NATO and make missile defense deployments more likely as states turn to the US for leadership and protection (Foreign Policy).
     Lavrov denied a recent report that Israel and Russia worked to stop a cargo ship carrying Russian S-300 air defense missiles bound for Iran (Agence France-Presse). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Russia to continue efforts to stop the sale of S-300 missiles to Iran [previously covered here] (Haaretz (2)).
Haaretz | Xinhua | RIA Novosti | Foreign Policy | Agence France-Presse | Haaretz (2)