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Netanyahu Tells Putin That Missile Sale to Iran Undermines Middle East

Netanyahu Tells Putin That Missile Sale to Iran Undermines Middle East

Israel’s Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Russian President Putin that the sale of S-300 missile systems to Iran would only serve to increase Iran’s aggression and put the security of the Middle East at risk.

Following Russia’s decision to lift a ban on supplying S-300 missile systems to Iran, the Israeli PM called Putin to express his “grave concerns” and received a detailed explanation of defensive weapons and the logic behind Moscow’s move.

The Jerusalem Post reports: The two leaders spoke by telephone on Tuesday, just one day after Russia ended its voluntary five-year ban on the delivery of the system, which would help strengthen Iran against a military attack.

Russia said that in light of the framework agreement between Iran and the six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, the ban was no longer necessary. Iran could receive the S-300 by the end of the year.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Russia’s decision was proof that the Iranian nuclear deal was dangerous.

“The sale of advanced weapons to Iran is the result of the dangerous agreement that is emerging between Iran and the [six world] powers,” Netanyahu said. “After this arms deal [for the S-300], is there anyone who can seriously claim that the [framework] agreement with Iran will increase the security in the Middle East?” For over a month, Israel has warned that the framework agreement the parties reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, earlier this month would strengthen Iran militarily.

Israel is particularly concerned that sanctions against Iran will be lifted before results are achieved.

But the six world powers – the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany – have not been moved by Israel’s arguments and are moving forward with talks to finalize the deal by June 30.

Negotiations will resume on April 21 at the deputy level, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday, in what will be the first meeting since a major breakthrough two weeks ago.

But already Russia is rolling back some of its sanctions and has allowed an exchange of goods for crude oil.

Ya’alon said that Moscow’s S-300 deal with Iran was “something we have been warning about even before the details [of the agreement] were concluded. It was clear, even then, that sanctions will be lifted, and that of course this will influence and strengthen the Iranian economy.”

Putin told Netanyahu that S-300 missiles had only defensive capabilities and did not pose a threat to Israel, according to the Kremlin.

But the US, which, along with Israel, has long opposed Russia’s sale of the S-300 to Iran, said it was concerned by Russia’s move, even if the move did not impact the Obama administration’s support for the framework agreement.