Israel to Press Russia on Arms Sales to Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Russia to refrain from providing Iran and Syria with advanced missiles and weapons technology, and vowed to raise the issue during a visit to Moscow starting on Monday.

Barak’s words came one day before Olmert’s scheduled visit to Russia in an attempt to dissuade Russia from selling antiaircraft missiles to Iran.

This is while the Untied States has boosted military aids to the Israeli regime. Israel has received an advanced US-made radar staffed by American personnel, officials involved in the deployment said on Sunday, a move unprecedented all throughout the Zionist regime’s 60-year history since it occupied Palestine.

The provocative arrival and deployment of the X-band radar is a gauge of the depth of defense ties between Israel and the United States.

Israel hopes Russia to play a positive role in the regional peace process, Barak said during a meeting in Jerusalem with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

According to daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Barak and Kouchner discussed the sale of various weapon systems to Iran and Syria, and various political and security issues pertaining to the Middle East.

Local daily Ha’aretz said Olmert is expected to focus on Russia’s sale of antiaircraft missiles to Iran during his trip, pointing out to the Russian leaders Israel’s opposition to any missile deal with Iran.

A senior Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that Olmert’s visit is “focused on the security issue” and he will raise the topic of the missiles during his three meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Xinhua reported.

Olmert intends to emphasize that the missile sale would “upset the military strategic balance in the Middle East,” and warn Moscow of the danger of the missile system being transferred to Iranian military ally Syria, added the official.

The Israeli military establishment is becoming increasingly concerned over talks between Russia and Iran about the sale of S-300 antiaircraft missiles to Tehran.

The deployment of these missiles would pose a major threat to any Israel Air Force operation against Iranian nuclear facilities, said Ha’aretz.

The S-300 is considered one of the most advanced antiaircraft missile systems in the world. Its launchers are portable and can be readied for use within a few minutes.

The missiles are capable of hitting aircraft flying at a maximum altitude of nearly 30 km, and have a range of about 150 km. The system’s radar can detect dozens of different targets simultaneously.

In recent meetings within Israel’s military and foreign policy establishment, speakers have reiterated the need to stop or at least delay the deal. Senior Israeli military officials have approached Olmert to impress upon him the importance of dealing with the issue at the highest level of government.

Western media outlets claimed earlier that Iran has purchased the missile system from Russia, but officials both in Tehran and Moscow dismissed the reports.

Military analysts believe that Iran is forced to buy the system from Russia due to Israel’s increased threats of military action against the Islamic Republic, and specially following the delivery of the advanced US radar to the Zionist regime.

About 120 American troops arrived in the Negev Desert to set up the early warning radar that will track missiles launched from any destination in the Middle-East, the US-based weekly Defense News said in its current issue.

The X-band radar, which can track objects as small as a baseball at a distance of 4,700 kilometers, was transported over the past week in an air convoy of a dozen or more jumbo military aircraft from US bases in Europe. The move, which was confirmed by Israeli sources on Sunday, was designed to significantly upgrade Israel’s long-range radar capabilities.

Placing an X-band radar in Israel was first debated in Israel several months ago and agreed to in Washington only two months ago. The high-tech gear is to be plugged into data from US satellites and an Israeli-operated weapon system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.

US forces have been frequent visitors to Israel in recent years for joint training exercises or to operate Patriot anti-missile defense systems. But these troops have seldom stayed more than a few weeks at a time.

Israeli politicians and military leaders have heightened threats of military action against Iran in recent months.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Speculation that Israel may bomb Iran rose after a military exercise by the Zionist regime earlier this year. In early June, Israel conducted a military maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in preparation, according to Pentagon officials, for an aerial bombardment of Iranian nuclear facilities.

Over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s partook in the exercise, which spanned some 900 miles, roughly the distance between their airfields and a nuclear enrichment facility in the central Iranian city of Natanz.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is among its main options on the table.

In response, Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Iran has warned that it would target 32 US military bases in the Middle East as well as Israel if it comes under attack.

Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran are in direct opposition to a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear plans and activities.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Following the said reports by the US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran’s case must be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.

There have also been intense discussions about whether the Israeli air force and navy could successfully carry out an attack by itself against multiple targets more than 1,200 kilometers away that are believed to be scattered and often buried deep underground.

A recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

The Israeli Foreign Minister and the ruling Kadima’s new leader Tzipi Livni also reiterated on Sunday that “the Iranian ideology exists regardless of what transpires here.”

“The world must comprehend that even if we win one battle the ideology in Iran will remain unchanged,” added the Israeli foreign minister.

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