The Russian-Iranian military alliance continues to grow following the release of billions of dollars to Tehran under the recently implemented nuclear agreement, according to announcements made by both countries.
Iranian officials announced Monday that Iran would spend another $8 billion on the purchase of Russian-made arms. The sale comes as Moscow gears up to deliver to Iran an advanced missile air defense system as part of a deal that has been in the works for years.
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Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan is on a two-day tour of Moscow to meet with his counterparts about the signing of a new $8 billion arms contract, according to Iran’s state-controlled media.
Iranian leaders are said to have provided Russia with what they call a "shopping list" of various arms and military hardware. The visit by Dehghan is expected to "speed up a number of key arms deal" between the countries, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
Iran wants to purchase more sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems and also a new cadre of warplanes, according to the report. The new deals will be in addition to several outstanding arms and military contracts that have already been signed between Iran and Russia.
Iran will "seriously focus on its air force and fighter jets," according to comments by Dehghan made prior to his visit. "We are moving toward a contract. We told them that we need to be involved in the production [of the fighter planes] as well."
A Russian source who spoke to the media said Iran is also interested in the latest anti-aircraft technology.
"Iran would like to buy Russia's latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system, developed by Almaz-Antey. And they make no secret of it," the source was quoted as telling the Russian press. "On the eve of his visit to Moscow, Dehghan openly said to Iranian media they want to purchase the S-400s."
Iran also is seeking to buy and possibly license for domestic production Russia’s new Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jet, which is used for air-to-air and air-to-surface combat.
"Iran is also interested in Russia’s Bastion mobile coastal defense missile system, equipped with supersonic Yakhont anti-ship missiles, along with Mi-8/17 helicopters and other arms," according to the Iranian state-controlled media.
Meanwhile, Russia intends to ship Iran its S-300 air defense system. Iran has been pursuing the weapons system for some time, but the deal was held up while world powers negotiated the nuclear agreement. Now that sanctions on Iran are being lifted, Russia can move forward with the deal.
The Iranians and Russians are also in discussions about civilian aircraft.
Iran is seeking to buy from Moscow at least 100 short-haul super jets, according to the president of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation.
This deal could enable Iran to domestically produce some of the air components.
The nuclear deal is credited with paving the way for this agreement.
"Due to the lifting of sanctions, there are no formal restrictions on supplies, but since a number of components for aircraft are American-made, we must receive permission," Vladislav Masalov, vice president of the United Aircraft Corporation, was quoted as saying by Fars.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and terrorism analyst, said that the Obama administration set the stage for these arms deals by providing Iran with sanctions relief too early under the nuclear accord.
"Secretary of State John Kerry frontloaded Iran's payday for all the wrong reasons," Rubin said. "If the [nuclear deal] was meant to last 10 or 15 years, it would make sense to release the cash over that time frame."
"But, because Kerry didn't want any successor holding Iran's feet to the fire on compliance with the deal, he gave Iran its payday up front," Rubin explained. "It was wholly predictable—and indeed, it was predicated early and often—that Iran would invest that money disproportionately in its military and not actually help its own people."
Rubin said he expects Iran to also pursue weapons and arms deals with China in the near future.