In a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apparently failed to dissuade him from selling S-300 missiles to Iran.
Netanyahu expressed Israel’s grave concerns about sending the advanced weapons to Iran, saying that it would only encourage the Islamic regime’s aggression in the region, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s office.
A statement put out by the Kremlin said that “Vladimir Putin explained the rationale for the decision in the current context and highlighted the fact that due to their tactical and technical characteristics, S-300s have a purely defensive significance and pose no threat to Israel.”
At the same time, Israel continued to pound the Iran talks, as Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that the sale of the Russian-made S-300 anti-missile system to Iran was made possible by the framework agreement reached in Lausanne.
“Iran keeps on arming itself and others,” Yaalon said. “The S-300 deal we are hearing about now — in fact, the Russian renewal of the deal that was put on hold over the past several years — is a direct result of the framework agreements reached at Lausanne. This is something we warned about before the details were ironed out.”
Yaalon charged that the lifting of the ban sweeps away an important sanction, which could also strengthen Iran’s economy.
“Meanwhile,” he added, “the Iranians continue to arm elements around us. They are arming Hizbullah in the north, while supporting the fighting in Syria… and in Yemen. This issue wasn’t even discussed, and it’s one of the biggest holes in the agreement — in fact outside the agreement — and it is deeply troubling.”
Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Tuesday in Moscow that Tehran is looking forward to delivery of the S-300s, by the end of the year, Russian news agencies reported.
Meanwhile, a Mideast expert sees a possible silver lining in the S-300 deal.
The rapprochement with Iran could work to Israel’s advantage, compelling the U.S. to substantially reassure its Mideast ally, Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Arutz Sheva.
Removal of sanctions — already a reality with the S-300’s and a Russian food-for-oil deal — foreshadows a stronger, more threatening Iran. Consequently, the U.S. will need to ‘reassure’ its allies in the Middle East of their strategic backing.
“There will be a lot of reassurance as well as there should. Iran has violated and cheated on these nuclear arrangements before,” states Miller.
Nor is the U.S.-Israel alliance a one-way street. Washington, he says, recognizes that Israel is a major power in the region, along with Turkey and Iran, and is vital to maintain stability and protect American interests.
“These three countries are functional countries. They have very competent militaries and intelligence, and they are stable countries. They’re not just going to disappear. These countries actually work.”
The United States, therefore, will have to work well with Israel in the aftermath of an agreement.
“I think Israel and Turkey are more productive, but Iran is not to be underestimated.”
“The deal won’t end Iran’s desire to be a nuclear threshold state and won’t change their behavior unless there is some fundamental change in the neighborhood.”