Iran and Russia–strategic defence co-operation


‘IRAN and Russia are on the path of strategic defence cooperation’ said the Iranian Daily Javan website on 21 January.

It stated: ‘Iranian and Russian developments after the Islamic Revolution have always been accompanied by many peaks and valleys but the two countries have sometimes, much like the current situation, undoubtedly not been on the same page with each other in various areas related to strategic interests with the aim of expanding cooperation.

‘The Russian defence minister’s trip to Tehran can be considered to be a reflection of that synchronicity of the strategic relations between the two countries that has now manifested itself in the form of military cooperation; especially now that both countries are facing various threats on the economic front and security developments.

‘Iran and Russia started a close cooperation with regard to Syria and supported the legitimate Syrian Government with all their power in order to halt the advance of terrorists in the region and to stop the new plot in the world for toppling legitimate governments.

‘In addition, currently Iran and Russia are facing a common threat from America regarding international sanctions which has led to the signing of the biggest economic cooperation agreement between the two countries worth 70 billion euros.

‘But cooperation in the military area is an issue that is separate from economic and security relations and is a sign of the depth of the relations between the two countries in the face of their threats.

‘The modern era of military cooperation between Iran and Russia goes back to former President Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s trip to the Soviet Union in 1369 (year starting 21 March 1990.)

‘During that trip, Iran and the Soviet Union signed a military contract worth more than 10 billion dollars.

‘That agreement included the sale of semi-heavy submarines and MiG 29 and Sukhoi 24 fighters and even the objections of the US Government were not enough to prevent it from being signed. However, this military cooperation did not last very long.

‘With the fall of the Soviet Union and the coming to power of the pro-Western government of Boris Yeltsin, military cooperation between Iran and Russia decreased.

‘Through an agreement with the US Government, former Russian Prime Minister Viktor] Chernomyrdin halted military cooperation with Iran and the sale of new weapons to Iran was stopped.

That trend continued until the current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin came to power. With the former Iranian president’s trip to Russia and the signing of a new agreement of cooperation as well as the revocation of the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement by the Russian Duma (referring to the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) the ground was once again prepared for the expansion of military cooperation between the two countries.

‘The delivery of the Tor M1 missile system and Mil 17 helicopters were results of that agreement.

‘However, with the coming to power of Medvedev and the start of the nuclear dispute between Iran and the West, military cooperation between the two countries once again entered a period of decline.

‘Through an order, Medvedev made the execution of the UN resolution on Russian soil mandatory and as a result the delivery of Russian arms to Iran was halted. One of the agreements between the two countries that was sacrificed due to that conflict was the agreement for the delivery of the S-300 missile system.

‘That missile system could have resulted in Iran’s defensive capabilities improving in confronting a possible attack by America and the Zionist regime to face a serious challenge.

‘Meanwhile, the cancellation of the delivery of that weapon led to Iran’s objection in the court of arbitration set up for that agreement which led to a compensation of 4 billion dollars being set for Iran.

‘The resolution of that issue between Iran and Russia has been one of the main chapters of the relations between Iran and Russia over the past few years.

‘The Russians even suggested replacing the S-300 system with the Antey-2500 system, but while pointing out that it demanded the delivery of the original system, Iran rejected that deal.

‘The snag in the expansion of the defence relationship between Iran and Russia continued until the coming to power of Putin and America’s attack on Russian borders.

‘With Vladimir Putin coming to power once again in Russia and the start of the period of the West’s aggression toward the East as well as the expansion of NATO, Russia became aware of the importance of cooperation with the Eastern Bloc.

‘NATO’s invasion of Libya and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi were important warnings that made Russia aware to confront America’s greed.

‘That awareness manifested itself in the fight against the fall of Bashar al-Assad and the prevention of the issuance of a resolution against Syria in the UN Security Council.

‘Subsequently, security cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorists in the region expanded and that trend continued until the coming to power of the new government in Iran.

‘With the Rouhani government taking office, cooperation between Iran and Russia in the military arena expanded and this issue, during the first meeting between Rouhani and Putin on the side-lines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Bishkek, was the start of the expansion of those relations.

‘That trend continued with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s trip to Iran. The first trip by a high ranking Russian military official to Iran was that of the commander of the Russian Air Force to Tehran which resulted in a bilateral military agreement for the expansion of military cooperation.

‘The next step was Defence Minister Brigadier General Hoseyn Dehqan’s trip to Russia who met with high ranking Russian officials during an international security conference.

‘It was there that the expansion of relations between the two countries was discussed and the Russian defence minister’s trip to Iran was planned.

‘That trip was the start of new relations between the two countries in the military arena and perhaps the end of some of the old issues that existed in the relations between the two countries.

‘The first issue that was agreed on during Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygo’s trip to Iran was the resolution of the issue of the S-300 defence system and its sale to Iran.

Since the delivery of that system has been delayed due to UN Security Council’s sanctions against Iran, the signing of this agreement can be a sign of the weakening of the credibility of that resolution at the international level.

The expansion of military relations between Iran and Russia can lead to reaction on the part of other countries, particularly America.

‘This is an issue that is not deemed to be highly unlikely, but it seems likely in the current conditions Iran and Russia have formed an alliance against a common enemy and the West’s excessive demands.

‘We must wait and see where this new period of relations will lead to.’

A Russian official reported that Russia will probably deliver the S-300 and S-400 systems to Iran.

This issue had been discussed following the recent meeting between Iranian and Russian defence ministers in Tehran.

RIA Novosti quoted Leonid Ivashov, one of Russia’s military officials, as saying that ‘this step has been taken in line with economic and weapons technology cooperation and at least defensive systems such as S-300 and S-400 will probably be delivered to them.’

Russia had previously suggested that, instead of delivering the S-300 missile system, it would deliver the air defence system known as Tor to Iran but the Tor missile defence system is a defensive system for sea and air, short range, and surface to air and it can target aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani has warned against the US congress decision to impose new sanctions against Tehran, saying any new pressure by Washington will be reciprocated with a leap in Iran’s nuclear activities.

‘If the US congress imposes new sanctions, certainly, it will regret the path it has paved and of course, they will face Iran’s leap in nuclear technology and this is possible for the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ Larijani said in a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart Davit Usupashvili in Tehran on Saturday 24 January.

Noting that Iran has shown flexibility and determination to settle its nuclear standoff with the West during the talks with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany), he said the differences between the US administration and the congress are not related to Iran and the US officials should be able to control the situation.

‘Now if they cannot settle their problems, they shouldn’t say that the nuclear negotiations are in trouble; their inability means that they have rocked the boat of the negotiations,’ Larijani underlined.

His comments came after the US congress (grabbed by the Republicans) threatened the Obama administration that it will impose new sanctions against Iran, an issue which has been described as a redline by Tehran in the interim nuclear agreement reached with the world powers in November 2013.

• Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hoseyn Salami warned that the Israeli air raid against Syria which killed a number of Hezbollah members and an Iranian military adviser last Sunday will certainly be retaliated with a crushing response.

‘In addition to the reopening of the West Bank front, as a move done especially in retaliation for the incident, we will surely take revenge for the attack with a specific move,’ Salami said in an interview with Iran-based Arabic-language al-Alam news channel on Saturday 24 January.

He also stressed Iran’s determination to continue its policy of supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups and developing new defensive capacities and infrastructures for the Muslims who are living in areas next to the Zionist entity.

Asked if the last Sunday attack will be retaliated by Iran or the resistance groups, Salami said, ‘We cannot publicise how it will be, but it is an event that God willing will take place.’

Salami stressed that the Israeli air raid was the result of the US and the Zionist regime’s continued failures in the region, and warned Israel to wait for a crushing response.