Russia's Waiver of Iran Missile Ban Prompts US Concern

World | April 14, 2015, Tuesday // 07:40
Bulgaria: Russia's Waiver of Iran Missile Ban Prompts US Concern US Secretary of State John Kerry (pictured) spoke to Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over the phone on Sunday to discuss Russia's decision. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The move by Moscow to lift an embargo on supplying Iran with S-300 air defense missile systems is "unhelpful", a Pentagon official has said.

On Sunday Russia announced it would renounce a ban on selling the equipment to Iran after substantial progress was marked in talks of world powers with Iran over the country's controversial nuclear program earlier in April.

Under an accord expected to be drafted by end-June, Tehran would not produce weapons grade nuclear fuel, but will be able to retain one of its uranium enrichment facilities, with the EU and US dropping all nuclear-related sanctions in return.

Russia was under pressure to halt the deal in 2010 as the international community had moved to impose a new round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed Moscow's decision over the phone,according to a White House statement.

Lavrov later also produced a statement released on the Foreign Ministry's website [RU] saying that the need of such measures had fully disappeared with the accord.

Russia believes Iran needs the weapon solely for defensive purposes, especially in light of the latest developments in the Middle East, and in Yemen in particular.

Moscow government sources are meanwhile reported by Reuters as saying that their country has started deliveries of grain and construction materials for Iran, goods for which Iran pays in oil barrels.

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Tags: Sergey Lavrov, John Kerry, US, Russia, Iran, sanctions, uranium, deal, S-300
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