Russian sales of tactical surface-to-air missiles to Iran will provide it with purely defensive weapons and will not upset the balance of forces in the region, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Monday.
Ivanov, quoted by Russian news agencies, confirmed Russia had signed a contract to supply the Islamic Republic with TOR-M1 systems designed to bring down aircraft and guided missiles at low altitudes. Local media say the deal is worth $1 billion.
“This definitely will not cause any changes to the balance of forces in the region,” Ivanov was quoted as telling reporters. The TOR-M1s were only for use against attacking planes and were “100 percent a defensive weapon,” he said.
Ivanov went on to say the weapons sales were fully in accordance with Russian law and Russia’s international obligations.
Moscow is at odds with the West over its nuclear ties with Tehran which the United States says is trying covertly to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is for energy needs only.
U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, visiting Moscow last Friday, said his country did not support weapons sales to Iran and said he had raised the issue of arms sales to Iran with Russia’s Foreign Ministry.