Friday, February 19, 2016

Iran poised to receive S-300 missile system, aircraft from Russia - Eli Leon, Yoni Hersch and Hezi Sternlicht

by Eli Leon, Yoni Hersch and Hezi Sternlicht

According to Russian media, delivery of S-300 air defense system imminent • Iran and Russia expected to sign deal on Russian Sukhoi aircraft • New York Times: Obama planned cyberattack on Iran as a contingency if talks failed.

The S-300 air defense System
Photo credit: AP

Iran was expected to receive its first S-300 air defense system from Russia on Thursday, Russian media reported Wednesday. This will be the first the major weapons deal to be implemented in the wake of the July 14 nuclear deal with the international community, which brought an end to most of the sanctions on Iran. But a Russian official denied the report later on Wednesday, telling the state-run Russian news agency TASS that there were still outstanding payment issues. 

The Russian state news agency, RIA, reported Wednesday that Moscow and Teheran were expected to sign another procurement deal for the delivery of Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft. 

The recent lifting of sanctions also means Iran will now be able to engage in international commerce through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a network for global financial transactions. According to a SWIFT official, several Iranians banks have recently been reconnected to the system, which is an integral part of the global financial system. Some 30 Iranian banks were disconnected from the system in 2012 as part of the effort to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear program. 

According to an Indian report from Wednesday, Iran would be able to use SWIFT to lay its hands on some $6 billion generated from oil deals with India. Those funds were frozen while the sanction regime was in place. 

Meanwhile, according to a New York Times report from Tuesday, the U.S. prepared a large-scale cyber attack on Iran in the event the nuclear talks broke down. "In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyber attack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict," the report said. "The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, was devised to disable Iran's air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled." According to the paper, the report is based on a new documentary and was confirmed by intelligence officials.

Eli Leon, Yoni Hersch and Hezi Sternlicht


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