State Department: Iran’s Possession of S-300 Missile System Could Lead to Sanctions

• April 18, 2016 3:46 pm


Iran’s recent purchase of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system could lead to U.S.-levied sanctions on the country, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday.

Kirby said that Iran's possession of the S-300 missile system, if seen as a provocation, "could" draw U.S. sanctions under U.S. law, but did not announce a specific sanctions regime.

"We have made clear in the past our objections to any sale of the S-300 missile system to Iran," Kirby said. "We’re going to continue to monitor this closely. I do not have any specific decisions."

Iran flaunted its S-300 air defense system during an annual military parade Sunday, according to state media. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took the opportunity to laud Iran’s ability to fight neighboring threats, including Israel.

"The Iranian Army is the Islamic Army that protects Muslim countries from terrorism and Zionism," Rouhani said. He claimed that the missile system was defensive in nature, an assertion also made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The power of our armed forces is not aimed at any of our neighbors … Its purpose is to defend Islamic Iran and act as an active deterrent," Rouhani said.

Russia delivered its first shipment of the missile system to Iran last week after cancelling a previous sale in 2010, the Kremlin claimed, due to Western pressure.

The same year, an Obama administration official described the missile system as a "red line." However, when Russia lifted its self-imposed ban on the sale of the S-300 to Iran in April 2015, Obama said that he was "frankly surprised" that it took Russia so long.