Russia’s controversial deal with Iran to sell Tehran a powerful air defense system was completed on Monday. Both sides pronounced the talks – frozen since 2010 — a success.
It’s just that each side defined the term differently.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian openly told Iranian state-run news agencies the deal was a “success” and the system would soon be delivered.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday the deal was not quite sealed, despite a statement by President Vladimir Putin several weeks earlier lifting the ban on selling the arms to Iran.
Following Monday’s talks, Russia confirmed it had indeed decided to delivering its S-300 air defense missile system to Iran. But the Kremlin was decidedly vague on a date.
“The decision on delivering the S-300 to Iran has been taken but the realization of the project will take some time,” said Yevgeny Lukyanov, deputy head of the Russian security council, reported Moscow news agencies.
Russia is being equally cagey with its fellow world powers as they negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear technology program in the P5+1 talks led by the United States.
Iran continues to seek – and sometimes to actually find – ways to circumvent international sanctions imposed on transactions dealing with any nuclear or other energy-related product of Iran. The Islamic Republic is also demanding that all sanctions be immediately lifted upon signing any agreement with the world powers.
However, the Tehran government still refuses to allow unlimited, unfettered access to its nuclear research and development sites upon signing the agreement that would limit its uranium enrichment and other nuclear technology activities.
Because these roadblocks still remain, European negotiators are now telling journalists the talks may not end in success; or at least, they won’t close by June 30, the latest deadline set by the U.S. and Iran.
Russia, and China, are also adding their own roadblocks; neither appears willing to stand firm on the issue of imposing “snap back” sanctions to ensure Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal.
Hence, perhaps, Russia’s latest dance with Iran – and the rest of the world – as it dangles a delivery date for the S-300 missile defense system before the Islamic Republic.
“As I understand, the time of delivery has not yet come,” Lukyanov told reporters.