Russian ambassador to Iran Levan Jagarian told Iranian state media he has "no problem" selling state-of-the-art missiles to Tehran following the end of an arms embargo later this month, Fox News reported Monday.
A United Nations embargo currently forbids the sale of Russian S-400 missiles to Iran, though it is set to expire on October 18.
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The S-400 missile system is effective at one of the highest distance and altitude ranges of any air defense weapon, and has become a highly sought-after device for American rivals.
Previous statements from the Kremlin point to a strong likelihood that a sale will come soon after the embargo’s end.
"The Security Council in that resolution said that the supply of arms to Iran and from Iran would be subject to consideration by the Security Council and that on October 18, 2020, this regime of sales to Iran would stop," said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in another interview late last month. "There is no embargo, and there would be no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe established by the Security Council."
While new rounds of sanctions from Washington—including the unilateral "snapback" sanctions—have curtailed the economy and overall military expansion of Iran, Tehran continues to seek help from American adversaries. This summer, overtures from Tehran for security assistance have reached dangerous actors such as Moscow and Beijing.
The advanced S-400 missile defense system has already been used as a diplomatic ploy by Moscow against the United States. In August, a report revealed that House Republicans had been quietly halting arms deals with Turkey for the past two years due to Russia’s sale of S-400 missiles to Ankara. A bargaining chip used by Moscow, the missile sales led experts to question Turkey’s future in NATO.
Unconfirmed reports indicate Turkey is set to test the missile system in the coming weeks as tensions between Ankara and neighboring Greece intensify over holdings in the eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, Turkey’s bid to become a European Union member has become an increasingly fraught question.
There is speculation that Iran may hold off on the purchase of its own S-400 system until it has a more favorable political climate in Washington.
"American adversaries increasingly understand the fault lines in our political system," Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News. "If no sale occurs immediately after mid-October—when the original arms embargo date lapses per the JCPOA—this can be chalked up to Russia and China choosing to wait out the Trump administration in the hopes of a different approach to Iran under a potential Biden administration."