“Israeli PM in ‘secret’ Russia visit over Iran
Wed, 09 Sep 2009 09:23:28 GMT
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Russia’s S-300 missile system
Amid rumors in the Israeli media about the mysterious disappearance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reports reveal that he made a secret visit to Moscow to discuss Russian arms sales to Iran and Syria.
Netanyahu stole away to Moscow on Monday, Yediot Aharonot daily quoted anonymous sources as saying on Wednesday.
The premier’s office reiterated that Netanyahu had spent Monday at the headquarters of the Mossad foreign intelligence agency.
Moscow also denied that Netanyahu met either Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev.
A spokesman for the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, which oversees arms exports, declined to comment.
With concerns in the West about military ties between Russia and Iran, an official at Russia’s state arms exporter had earlier expressed willingness to consider orders for military equipment from Tehran, should a request be made.
Despite domestic production of fighter jets, Iran seems to be interested in refurbishing its army’s aging air fleet.
While Moscow signed a contract with Tehran in 2007 to supply the powerful S-300 missiles to Iran, there has been interminable confusion reigning over the delivery of the sophisticated defense system.
The S-300 surface-to-air system, known as the SA-20 in the West, can track targets and fire at aircraft 120 km (75 miles) away. It also features high jamming immunity and is capable of simultaneously engaging up to 100 targets.
Tehran has opted to acquire the sophisticated S-300 system to counter potential air strikes on its nuclear facilities as Israel continues to mention such measures as prudent in dealing with the Iranian issue.
Israeli and US officials have strongly urged Moscow not to supply the missiles to Iran, and the issue has been the subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for years.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said last month that Russia promised to review a decision to sell Iran the ‘game changing’ S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
“President [Dmitry] Medvedev gave a promise he will reconsider the sales of S-300s because it affects the delicate balance which exists in the Middle East,” Peres said.
The US, Israel and their European allies — Britain, France and Germany — claim the Islamic Republic has military objectives in its nuclear enrichment program.
The Tehran government, however, says the only aim of its nuclear program is the civilian applications of the technology.
The country says that it would have no use for such weapons as it considers them ‘obsolete.’ Iran has also called for the removal of all weapons of mass destruction across the globe. ”
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